Officials made false statements about dropping charges against Jussie Smollett, special prosecutor says

Officials made false statements about dropping charges against Jussie Smollett, special prosecutor says

A special prosecutor has concluded there were “substantial abuses of discretion” in the Jussie Smollett case and that officials involved made false or misleading statements to the public.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb on Monday detailed the findings of his investigation into how the Cook County state’s attorney’s office handled the case against the Empire actor, and the probe did not conclude that officials broke the law, The New York Times reports. However, Webb’s investigation established “abuses of discretion and operational failures” in the case.

Smollett in 2019 said he had been the victim of a hate crime and that two men attacked him in Chicago while yelling racist and homophobic slurs, only for police to charge Smollett and accuse him of orchestrating the attack. Later, all of the charges against Smollett were unexpectedly dropped, and amid questions about what led to this outcome, a special prosecutor was appointed to look into the case. Webb says that he spoke with many Cook County officials who were “shocked” by the decision to drop the charges, BuzzFeed News reports.

Additionally, the report says that the state’s attorney’s office “breached its obligations of honesty and transparency” by making false or misleading public statements. For example, the report says that even though Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx claimed that she stopped communicating with Smollet’s sister, actress Jurnee Smollett, after being made aware that Smollett was the subject of an investigation, she actually “continued communicating” with her for several more days. Webb also said that a statement from the office about other cases having similar outcomes as Smollett’s was misleading.

In February, Smollett was once again indicted by a grand jury for allegedly lying to the police. He continues to maintain his innocence. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office in a statement said that it “categorically rejects” the allegation that it made false statements about the case.

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