Dan Webb, the special prosecutor assigned to re-investigate the Jussie Smollett case, announced on Monday that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx reportedly engaged in “substantial abuses” in her handling of the situation.
Shortly after Smollett informed the police that he became a victim of a vicious hate crime in January 2019, his older sister Jurnee Smollett reached out to Foxx for assistance, worried that private information about the situation was being leaked, Dan Webb said.
Foxx repeatedly proclaimed that the discussions between her and Jurnee ended after the police began investigating Jussie for reportedly “faking a hate crime against himself, but it turns out that wasn’t true… and continued speaking with Jurnee well after Jussie was considered a suspect,” Webb added.
“State’s Attorney Foxx learned by February 8, 2019, that Mr. Smollett had become a suspect in CPD’s investigation, yet she continued communicating with Ms. Smollett through February 13, 2019, including via five text messages and three phone calls. State’s Attorney Foxx then made false statements to the media claiming she ceased all communications with Ms. Smollett as soon as she learned that Mr. Smollett was a suspect in CPD’s investigation and no longer merely a victim,” Webb said in a statement.
Despite persistency from Foxx’s office that they had a solid case against Smollett, on March 26 last year, 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against the Empire were suddenly dropped without any acknowledgment of guilt.
Chicago Judge Michael Toomin later ruled the case was filled with “unprecedented irregularities,” and a special prosecutor was required to look into the case from the beginning to restore the public’s faith in the criminal justice system.
Webb, a private attorney, was asked to determine if new charges should be brought against Smollett and if Foxx and her office acted illegally or improperly.
Following the investigation into the Smollett case, the actor was presented with new charges, while the investigation into Foxx didn’t conclude until Monday.
Although there was no evidence that Foxx and her office had committed any crimes, Webb and his team, drawing from 53 interviews, 50 subpoenas, and over 120,000 documents, concluded that her office committed five instances of abuse.
“Instead of implementing the proper legal course to carry out the recusal once this defect was brought to their attention, the CCSAO and State’s Attorney Foxx [decided] to ignore this major legal defect seemingly because they did not want to admit that they had made such a major mistake of judgment regarding State’s Attorney Foxx’s recusal,” Webb wrote, adding Foxx and her office went on to lie to the media, including The Post, about it.
Foxx’s office said in a statement that Webb’s report had rightfully cleared them of any illegal actions and “put to rest” implications of outside influence. They added that any inaccurate statements given to the public weren’t deliberate and they “reject the OSP’s characterizations of its exercises of prosecutorial discretion and private or public statements as ‘abuses of discretion.’”
“As a result of the issues addressed in the press release, and of discussions of them beforehand, the CCSAO has already made a number of changes to its operations, including the hiring of a new CCSAO ethics officer and more separation of their function from the administration of the office, and strengthening the recusal plan with clear guidelines and explicit definitions of conflicts of interest.”