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Review Finds Fault With Prosecutor in Smollett Case

Investigation reveals abuses of discretion but no crimes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 17, 2020 5:17 PM CDT

(Newser) – A special prosecutor in Chicago said Monday that Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and her office repeatedly abused their discretion and made false public statements in the case against actor Jussie Smollett last year, but he concluded they did nothing criminal. In his findings released after a monthslong investigation, special prosecutor Dan Webb sharply criticized Foxx and her staff for how they decided in March last year to toss charges that accused the former Empire actor of staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself. Webb also took them to task for how they sought to explain the decision as public outrage grew, the AP reports. Webb’s statement said his investigation "did not develop evidence that would support any criminal charges against State's Attorney Foxx" or anyone in her office. But it added, it "did develop evidence that establishes substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures."

A statement by Foxx's office said it welcomed aspects of Webb’s findings, including that no one on the staff committed a crime and that no undue outside influences affected the prosecutors' decisions regarding Smollett. But it took issue with the broader depiction of an office that didn't follow proper procedures and that was quick to mislead the public. The charges against Smollett were restored in February of this year after a first stage of Webb's investigation focused on the evidence against the actor. Webb said at the time that dropping the charges was unjustified, including because the evidence against Smollett was overwhelming. The black, openly gay actor has continued to stand by his claim that two men attacked him on Jan. 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago, shouting slurs and looping a rope around his neck. Webb also criticized Foxx’s office for trying to keep the decision to drop the charges from the public for as long as possible.

(Read more Jussie Smollett stories.)

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