Jussie Smollett criminal case file to be unsealed, judge orders05/24/2019
A Cook County judge ordered that actor Jussie Smollett’s criminal case be unsealed.
Judge Steven Watkins issued his ruling Thursday after a media coalition, including USA TODAY parent company Gannett, sought access to the file earlier this month under the Freedom of Information Act, arguing for transparency.
Watkins said that while there are good arguments in favor of keeping the file sealed, the “Empire” actor forfeited his rights to keep the case sealed to protect his privacy by talking to the media before and after prosecutors dismissed the charges against him.
According to the Associated Press, only one new detail has emerged from the unsealed file so far: that Smollett was forbidden from having contact with the brothers who claim he paid them to stage the attack.
The actor had been charged with 16 counts alleging he lied to police when reporting he’d been the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack in January. Police insist the actor, who is black and gay, staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity.
Prosecutors dropped all charges with little explanation.
After the criminal case was dismissed March 26, Smollett asked that the case be sealed, saying that he had “the right to be left alone.”
Contributing: Maria Puente, USA TODAY
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