There are indictments and then there are indictments. All charges against Jussie Smollett were abruptly dropped in late March (16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, to be exact), but behind the scenes Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, whose office would eventually be responsible for dropping the charges, texted deputy Joseph Magats that Smollett was a “washed up celeb who lied to cops.”
According to a trove of communication records obtained by the Chicago Tribune, Foxx, who informally recused herself from the case after discussing the investigation with one of Smollett’s family members, compared the treatment of Smollett to that of R. Kelly.
“Sooo……I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases…16 counts on a class 4 becomes exhibit A,” she wrote to 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.” A little more than two weeks later, on March 26, the charges were dropped.
A spokeswoman issued a statement to the Tribune in attempt to explain why Foxx continued internal communication on a case she had announced that recused herself from, the outcome of which was seemingly predicted by these March 8 texts. The Tribune reports that the official explanation is that Foxx reached out to Magats only “to discuss reviewing office policies to assure consistencies in our charging and our use of appropriate charging authority.”
In a Tribune op-ed published days after the charges were dropped, Foxx allowed that while there was “considerable evidence,” suggesting that “portions of Smollett’s claims may have been untrue and that he had direct contact with his so-called attackers,” the charges were dropped in part because “specific aspects of the evidence and testimony presented to the office that would have made securing a conviction against Smollett uncertain.” Regarding the sealing of the case, Foxx claimed that “in the interest of full transparency, I would prefer these records be made public,” but that it was Smollett’s decision to seal the case, per Illinois law. The Tribune reported that the Cook County State’s Attorney office and the Chicago Police Department denied the paper’s request for its internal files.
Foxx has invited an investigation into her office’s handling of the case, which has been taken up by Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard.
In other Smollett career news, he reportedly will not appear in the Broadway revival of the gay baseball play Take Me Out, which he auditioned for in January before his claims of a hate crime attack. He was recently photographed smiling, though.