Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx called Empire star Jussie Smollett a “washed up celeb, who lied to the cops” it has been revealed.
On Tuesday, text messages were released showing that after recusing herself from the actor’s case, Foxx openly discussed the investigation with her First Assistant Joseph Magats — and feared how they would be seen by the public.
In the messages obtained from Foxx’s office after public-records requests by the Chicago Tribune and ABC 7 Chicago, the State’s Attorney wrote, “Sooo… I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases… 16 counts on a class 4 (felony) becomes exhibit A.”
The conversation between Foxx and Magats took place on March 8 — the day authorities announced Smollett’s 16-count indictment.
Smollett, 36, was facing 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making false police reports about a hate crime attack against himself on a Chicago sidewalk in January.
Also in the text messages, Foxx compared Smollett’s case to the indictment of R. Kelly on 10 charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
“Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16 (counts),” Foxx wrote.
“Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should,” Foxx stated in the text messages, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Foxx has since released a statement regarding the text messages explaining, “After the indictment became public, I reached out to Joe to discuss reviewing office policies to assure consistencies in our charging and our use of appropriate charging authority.”
“I was elected to bring criminal justice reform and that includes intentionality, consistency, and discretion. I will continue to uphold these guiding principals,” Foxx’s statement reads.
On Jan. 29, Smollett told police he’d been physically attacked on the street in his downtown Chicago neighborhood around 2 a.m. by two black-clad, masked men who used racist and homophobic slurs, doused him with an “unknown chemical substance” and left him with a rope around his neck.”
Authorities immediately began investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, however, after a plethora of interviews, a review of hundreds of hours of video surveillance cameras, phone records and bank statements, law enforcement came to the conclusion that Smollett staged the assault. He was arrested Feb. 20.
“To be perfectly honest, from the very beginning we had questions,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference after Smollett had been charged.
Smollett and his legal team previously said they had planned an “aggressive defense,” according to his attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson.
“Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption,” his attorney, Mark Geragos, said in a statement released to PEOPLE after those indictments were announced.
In a surprising turn of events, all charges against Smollett were dropped last month.
“After reviewing all the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” reads a statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office obtained by PEOPLE.
The office did not, however, fully retreat from its initial decision to bring charges against Smollett or otherwise address PEOPLE’s inquiry on whether prosecutors still believe he staged the attack, saying in a follow-up statement: “We stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges.”
Smollett’s attorneys, Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes, released a statement to PEOPLE saying, “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him.”
The statement added, “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”
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