CHICAGO — Cook County prosecutors Friday released more than 2,000 pages of documents in the Jussie Smollett criminal case.
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Judge Steven Watkins on May 23 ordered records in the case be unsealed after WGN News and other media organizations filed lawsuits calling for them to be released.
Attorneys for Smollett, 36, previously succeeded in sealing the records by citing the actor's right to privacy. But Watkins' order said those rights were trumped when Smollett's legal team conducted multiple interviews.
"These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply to be let alone," Watkins wrote.
Smollett was previously criminally indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false report — but prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges against Smollett in late March.
His case made headlines across the country when Smollett reported to police that he had been attacked by two men in an an apparent hate crime in January, saying his attackers used racial, homophobic language and even invoked President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.
After investigating, prosecutors alleged Smollett paid to have two brothers stage the attack. Police said the actor was unhappy with his salary and wanted to promote his career. Smollett has maintained his innocence.
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx released the following statement Friday:
“This has been a unique case from the very beginning, where the victim became the suspect during the investigation. Allegations of a vicious homophobic and racially motivated attack shook our city and the nation with understandable anger and fear.
I did not have a conflict of interest in this case; only a sincere desire to serve the community. I spoke with Mr. Smollett’s family and others while he was still considered to be the victim of a hate crime in an effort to streamline the case and alleviate any concerns about the integrity of the investigation.
False rumors circulated that I was related or somehow connected to the Smollett family, so I removed myself from all aspects of the investigation and prosecution and delegated my authority and responsibility to my First Assistant so as to avoid even the perception of a conflict.
I regret that my attempts to this end created confusion outside the office. The public’s trust is paramount to our work. That is why today I am releasing material above and beyond what is required. It is my sincere hope that this transparency and the ongoing investigation of the Cook County Independent Inspector General will provide guidance and lessons on how to serve you better. I am sorry that despite the best intentions, our efforts were less than what was required of the moment.”