Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx defended her decision to drop all charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in a new op-ed with the Chicago Tribune.
“I am not perfect,” she said in the op-ed concerning her decision, “nor is any other prosecutor out there, but ensuring that I and my office have our community’s trust is paramount.”
“There was considerable evidence, uncovered in large part due to the investigative work of the Chicago Police Department, suggesting that portions of Smollett’s claims may have been untrue and that he had direct contact with his so-called attackers. Claims by Smollett or others that the outcome of this case has ‘exonerated’ him or that he has been found innocent are simply wrong,” the op-ed continued. “He has not been exonerated; he has not been found innocent.”
Falsely reporting any crime is itself a crime; falsely reporting a hate crime is so much worse, and I condemn in the strongest possible way anyone who does that. Falsely reporting a hate crime causes immeasurable harm to the victims of actual crimes, whether because they are less likely to be believed or, worse, because they are afraid to report their crimes in the first place for fear of not being believed.
So, why isn’t Smollett in prison or at least on trial? There are two different answers to this, both equally important.
According to Foxx, convicting Smollett would have faced an “uncertain” fate in court.
Foxx said, even if the case were pursued and charged, Smollett would have only received a class 4 felony, the least serious category.
“These felonies are routinely resolved, particularly in cases involving suspects with no prior criminal record, long before a case ever nears a courtroom and often without either jail time or monetary penalties,” she wrote. “Any prosecutor, law-enforcement leader or elected official not grandstanding or clouded by political expediency understands the purpose of sentencing guidelines.”
In the op-ed, Foxx said she would be open to allowing an investigation of her office to ensure transparency and trust.
The Associated Press has more:
While Foxx said Tuesday’s decision to drop the charges does not exonerate Smollett, as the actor has claimed, she indicated that some of the evidence made getting a conviction “uncertain.”
“In determining whether or not to pursue charges, prosecutors are required to balance the severity of the crime against the likelihood of securing a conviction,” Foxx wrote. “For a variety of reasons … my office believed the likelihood of securing a conviction was not certain.”
Police maintain that Smollett staged the attack to promote his career, and Chicago officials have ordered him to pay more than $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.
Foxx said Smollett’s “alleged unstable actions have probably caused him more harm than any court-ordered penance could.” But she added that jails should be reserved for those who commit violent crimes.