Just when you thought that the Jussie Smollett case couldn’t get any messier, a new 60-page report looking into how his original prosecutor’s office handled the matter furthers the damage.
After being found guilty of five out of six charges for lying to the police about being the victim of a supposed hate crime, the public got a look at how Smollett was the beneficiary of special treatment from the very criminal justice system he’s publicly criticized.
The tell-all report, released Monday by special prosecutor Daniel Webb, reveals a series of benefits extended to the Smollett camp by Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx after the Empire actor’s charges for staging a hoax were initially dropped. According to the report, Foxx lied to the public by suggesting that there were changes to the state of evidence against Smollett between the time he was indicted and when the case was dropped by her office.
Even more concerning is that Foxx continued to talk with Smollett’s sister, actress Jurnee Smollett, about the case even after the state’s attorney found out that Jussie had become a suspect in the police investigation of the crime he’d reported.
For example, during a Feb. 13, 2019 phone call, Foxx and Jurnee Smollett discussed details about the alleged attackers with the actress asking, “They’re white, right?" According to the report, Foxx told her they were not white. Jurnee Smollett told Webb’s investigators that Foxx told her that her “brother would be fine as long as he stays consistent.”
Foxx denied making the statement when asked about it by Webb’s team, but it’s hard to believe anything she says now given that back in 2019 she claimed to have cut off communication with Smollett’s sister even before this conversation took place. Although the special prosecutor’s report claims that it “did not develop evidence that would support any criminal charges against State’s Attorney Foxx or any individual working at the CCSAO,” Webb has said that he’s going to refer Foxx and her attorneys to the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) for ethics violations.
There’s more: When Smollett’s case was initially dismissed by Foxx’s office, she insisted, against common sense and without any evidence, that his treatment was similar to that of “ordinary” low-level defendants who entered “alternative prosecution” agreements. But Foxx told Webb’s investigators that actually she was surprised by the deal her prosecutors made with Smollett, and how it did not require him to admit any guilt or perform any community service after the charges against him were dropped.
“We respectfully disagree with the OSP’s findings of abuse of prosecutorial discretion,” the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said. “A prosecutor’s discretion is as broad as any in the law, and differences of opinion as to how a case was handled do not signify an abuse of discretion.”
Kim Foxx wasn’t born yesterday. A state attorney at her level knew that a high-profile case like this, involving a celebrity and an alleged hate crime, was going to put a spotlight on her office. She should have proceeded with special care. Instead, she gave the Smollett family VIP access to her office, begging a series of damning questions:
How do we not know Jurnee Smollett didn’t give her brother the heads-up that his hate-crime lie was crumbling? Could that have possibly inspired the actor to text the Osundario brothers his support while they were being interrogated by investigators as a last-minute attempt to keep them quiet? What if Foxx purposely fumbled this investigation on purpose to get Smollett’s charges dismissed altogether, hoping that he would leave the city and the smoke would clear?
During his trial, Jussie Smollett’s lawyers tried to present him as a victim of a justice system gone wrong, and his supporters have continued to speculate darkly about his prosecutors’ motives via the @CoalitionforJussie Instagram page, with several posts presenting him as an innocent man being terrorized by a criminal justice system run amuck.
But what this new report shows is that Jussie Smollett was the beneficiary of a justice system run amuck, one in which an actor was afforded special treatment by a problematic state attorney who probably did not extend the same favors and benefits of the doubt to the thousands of everyday people who get caught up in the system.
Like they say, celebrities really aren’t like the rest of us—at least when it comes to Kim Foxx’s office.