Culture&Arts

Special Prosecutor Approved In Smollett Case, Can Reinstate Charges

Special Prosecutor Approved In Smollett Case, Can Reinstate Charges

Cook county judge Michael Toomin suggested that the county's state's attorney, Kim Foxx, mishandled the Smollett case by appointing a top aide to oversee it after she recused herself.

A Cook County judge ruled Friday that a special prosecutor would be appointed to investigate the Jussie Smollett case. But her office opposed such a special prosecutor, explaining that the investigation would just duplicate the efforts of a county inspector general's office probe that is already underway.

Smollett, who is black and gay and at the time had a role on the television show "Empire", ignited a firestorm on social media after he told police on January 29 that he was attacked on a street outside his Chicago home. He has denied the allegations and prosecutors later dropped each of the 16 charges he faced.

Foxx recused herself from the case before charges were filed against Smollett because of conversations she had about the incident with one of Smollett's relatives, according to her spokesman. Instead, Foxx turned the case over to her top deputy, Joseph Magats, who was named "acting" state's attorney.

More news: Tory MP grabs and manhandles female climate change protester

Depending on the special prosecutor's findings, the disposition of Smollett's case could be nullified, Toomin said, citing the outcomes of similar inquiries. He also said the special prosecutor could bring charges against Smollett if they have "reasonable grounds to believe that any other criminal offense was committed", Chicago media outlets reported.

Communications later released to the Tribune showed Foxx had asked police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn over the investigation to the FBI after she was approached by Tina Tchen, a former chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama. That is what happened in the case of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald. McMahon won a second-degree murder conviction against Van Dyke. Weeks after the charges were dropped against Smollett, the city sued him in an attempt to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars the police department spent investigating the case. And he will not return to his role on the Fox series "Empire".

It's been five months since the star claimed two men attacked him - hurling racist and homophobic insults, dousing him with a chemical and slipping a rope around his neck - in an alleged homophobic and racist hate crime in Chicago sparking national outrage.


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