Talking publicly for the first time about her decision, Kim Foxx, the top prosecutor in Chicago, said that contrary to the actor’s claims, Jussie Smollett “has not been exonerated,” but securing a guilty claim based on the evidence was uncertain and would have been expensive.
“For a variety of reasons, including public statements made about the evidence in this case, my office believed the likelihood of securing a conviction was not certain,” Foxx said in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune.
In the commentary, Foxx laid out her reasoning for dropping charges against the Empire star and welcomed an outside review of the case as has been called for by President Trump and Smollett’s attorney.
“Let’s talk about the Jussie Smollett case,” she begins, and then explains how the alleged actions have far greater implications for Chicago than most people might realize.
“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 or that he had direct contact with his so-called attackers,” she wrote. “Claims by Smollett or others that the outcome of this case has ‘exonerated ’ him or that he has been found innocent are simply wrong. He has not been exonerated; he has not been found innocent.”
In the commentary piece she dissects the intricacies of falsely reporting a crime. “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.”
Then she asks the obvious question that most people would like to ask her: “So, why isn’t Smollett in prison or at least on trial?”
“There are two different answers to this, both equally important.”
The first, Foxx says, is “the law.” She says the evidence and testimony investigators had gathered would have “made securing a conviction against Smollett uncertain.” She said that in any case, prosecutors need to find the balance between “the severity of the crime” and the “likelihood of securing a conviction.”
She said that the charges pending against the Empire star were the least serious of crimes, a “Class 4 felony,” which she equates to falsely pulling a fire alarm at a school or draft card mutilation. These, she explains, are especially hard cases to get to a jury trial when they are lodged against a person without a prior criminal record like Smollett.
But her second reason is far more important to her. “As I’ve said since I was elected, we must separate the people at whom we are angry from the people of whom we are afraid,” she writes and then further explains. “I am angry at anyone who falsely reports a crime. I am afraid when I see a little girl shot dead while sitting on her mother’s lap.”
“Our community is safer in every sense of the word when murderers and rapists are locked away,” she writes. “I promised to spend my office’s finite resources on the most serious crimes in order to create communities that are both safer and fairer.”
She goes on to explain various details of the case and investigation and her success bringing down violent crimes in Chicago. She concludes that it seems “politically expedient” to question her motives for dropping charges.
“Let me state publicly and clearly that I welcome an outside, nonpolitical review of how we handled this matter,” she wrote. “I am not perfect, nor is any other prosecutor out there, but ensuring that I and my office have our community’s trust is paramount.”