Newly released emails and text messages reveal that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, whose office oversaw the Jussie Smollett case, thought the 16 disorderly conduct charges brought against the Empire actor were too severe.
Thousands of internal text messages and emails about the investigation were released Tuesday night following a Freedom of Information Act request by the ChicagoTribune.
Foxx’s office announced on February 19 that she had recused herself from the case, but electronic communications show her saying later that the charges against a “washed up celeb who lied to cops” were too harsh compared to the sexual abuse charges R. Kelly is facing.
“Sooo……I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases…16 counts on a class 4 becomes exhibit A,” Foxx wrote in a text message to her top assistant, Joseph Magats, on March 8.
“Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16. On a case eligible for deferred prosecution I think it’s indicative of something we should be looking at generally. Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should,” she said two weeks before the charges against Smollett were dropped.
Foxx’s office released a statement to the Chicago media explaining why she was communicating with a top deputy about the case after recusing herself: “After the indictment became public, I reached out to Joe to discuss reviewing office policies to assure consistencies in our charging and our use of appropriate charging authority. I was elected to bring criminal justice reform and that includes intentionality, consistency, and discretion. I will continue to uphold these guiding principles.”
Smollett told officers he was assaulted on January 29, by two masked men on the streets of Chicago as they shouted racist and homophobic slurs.
The actor, who is African-American and gay, claimed the attackers wrapped a noose around his neck, doused him with a chemical and shouted, “This is MAGA country.” Police later said Smollett paid brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo to stage the attack.
The actor was arrested, and charged with the 16 counts for allegedly filing a false police report. He pleaded not guilty, yet in a surprise move on March 26, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office dropped the charges after he agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail and perform community service.
As for Kelly, in February he was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Chicago prosecutors allege the chart-topping R&B singer sexually abused four females, including three underage girls, with the alleged abuse occurring between 1998 and 2010. Kelly has denied the allegations.