Chicago Prosecutor Thought Charges Against Jussie Smollett Were Too Severe, Texts Reveal

Newly released messages from Chicago's Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx reveal that she believed the 16 disorderly conduct charges brought against the "washed up" 'Empire' star were harsh.

The Chicago Tribune released emails and text messages from Chicago's Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx that reveal the prosecutor believed the 16 disorderly conduct charges brought against Jussie Smollett were too harsh.

Foxx — whose office oversaw the Empire star's case — previously recused herself from further participation in Smollett's prosecution in February. However, electronic exchanges show that Foxx continued to discuss the matter with her assistant, Joseph Magats, in March.

In one of her text conversations obtained by the Tribune, Foxx compared Smollett's case to R. Kelly's recent legal battle. In her comparison, Foxx said that the charges brought against "a washed up celeb who lied to cops" seemed severe compared to the sexual abuse charges currently plaguing Kelly.

"Sooo……I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases…16 counts on a class 4 becomes exhibit A," Foxx wrote to Magats on March 8.

"Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16. On a case eligible for deferred prosecution I think it’s indicative of something we should be looking at generally. Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should," she added.

Two weeks later, the charges against Smollett were dropped. In a statement to the The Hollywood Reporter, Foxx explained why she discussed Smollett's case after recusing herself. 

"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," she wrote. "I was elected to bring criminal justice reform and that includes intentionality, consistency, and discretion. I will continue to uphold these guiding principles."

Smollett was accused of orchestrating a Jan. 29 attack in Chicago, which he suggested was a racist and homophobic hate crime. Smollett — who is openly gay and black — previously claimed that his assailants shouted racist and homophobic slurs, as well as pro-Trump language such as, "This is MAGA country!" Police later said that Smollett paid Nigerian brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo to stage the attack in an attempt to further his acting career. Smollett and his lawyers vehemently maintain his innocence.

In February, Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Chicago prosecutors claim the singer sexually abused four females, including three underage girls, with the alleged abuse occurring between 1998 and 2010. Kelly has denied all allegations.

April 17, 9:27 a.m. Updated with Kim Foxx's statement to The Hollywood Reporter