Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx spoke out on Saturday, defending her office’s decision to end the Jussie Smollett hate hoax case by dropping charges against the actor, saying he was treated no differently than thousands of other defendants.
Smollett was accused of staging a racial and homophobic attack. The Empire actor has proclaimed his innocence and his attorneys have vowed to fight Chicago’s request to be reimbursed for the cost of its investigation, which concluded he personally orchestrated the attack.
Cook County State’s Attorney Foxx was speaking at the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s Rainbow Push Coalition event when she made her statements. The Smollett decision outraged Chicago’s mayor, police officials and many in the media, who felt that Smollett’s 16 felony counts should have been addressed.
“I have been asking myself for the last two weeks what is this really about,” Foxx said. “As someone who has lived in this city, who came up in the projects of this city to serve as the first African American woman in this role, it is disheartening to me … that when we get in these positions, somehow the goalposts change.”
Foxx claimed she recused herself after communicating with a Smollett relative during the probe. She reiterated that she welcomes an independent investigation and said nearly 6,000 low-level defendants had their charges dropped with “deferred prosecution” during her tenure. She added that under the law, Smollett could only be fined a maximum of $10,000 if found guilty, and that Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond.
Foxx did not address legal experts who said it was highly unusual not to require an admission of guilt by Smollett as a condition of ending the prosecution. Foxx also told the audience that she will complete her term, which ends next year, and plans to run for re-election.