Special prosecutor determines ‘substantial abuses of discretion’ in Jussie Smollett case

Smollett said in 2019 that he was attacked by two white men near his home in Chicago. He was charge with filing a false report but those charges were dropped

Updated: August 18, 2020 - 7:49pm

A special prosecutor in Chicago has concluded his investigation into the handling of the hate-crime allegations by actor Jussie Smollett, determining there were a series of "operational failures" and several misleading and false statements made by Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx following the actor's allegations. 

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb said Monday that he did not find evidence of undue influence exerted by third parties, but determine that Foxx and her team made a number of false or misleading statements to the media about her declared recusal from the case, her uncertainty that Smollett would be convicted, and her ongoing contact with Smollett's sister, actress Jurnee Smollett.

In January of 2019, Smollett told police that he had been attacked by two white men near his home in Chicago. The actor was then accused of staging the attack and charged with a 16-count indictment in March of 2019.

Foxx's office tossed out the indictments weeks later, raising suspicions about the handling of the case. 

Following the decision to drop the charges against Smollett, Foxx's office used a list of nearly 6,000 cases to prove that the actor was treated no differently than any other case similar to his.

Webb's report determined that providing the case list was an abuse of discretion and that despite Foxx's statements to the contrary, his case was not handled in the same way as others like it. 

Foxx initially said that the case was "treated like the other cases that have gone through our alternative prosecution model.”

Webb determined that statement to be untrue, considering Smollett has a criminal history in California and "there were not thousands of (or, arguably any) similar cases that the Foxx's office resolved in a similar way to the initial case.

Mark Geragos, an attorney for Jussie Smollet, made a statement on Monday calling the report politically motivated and claiming that his client, "a black, gay man ... maintains his innocence" and "continues to be used as a pawn."

Geragos also claimed that Webb's report was "a blatant attempt to take down a black, progressive, female prosecutor who does not fit within the white power structure."

Webb filed a new six-count indictment against Smollett in February, and was tasked with investigating any wrongdoing in the initial handling of the case.

Webb now says he is seeking permission from a Cook County judge to release the 60-page evidentiary report that supports his findings. He also intends to send the report to the Illinois' Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, meaning Foxx and her colleagues could be penalized for their actions. 

Webb's report found that attorneys in Foxx's office were "surprised" and "shocked" by how the initial charges against Smollett were handled, and that those in charge of the case at the outset tell inconsistent stories about how decisions were made. 

A statement made on Foxx's behalf of Monday read, "This report puts to rest any implications of outside influence or criminal activity on the part of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD). As the report unequivocally confirms, State’s Attorney Foxx was not involved in the decision-making process regarding the Jussie Smollett case at any point and there was no outside influence on that process."

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