Jim Rowe

Jim Rowe

KANKAKEE — The legal team which will deal with the well-known Jussie Smollett case will not include Kankakee County prosecutor Jim Rowe.

Kankakee County State’s Attorney Rowe has informed a Cook County judge he would not be able to serve as special prosecutor to investigate how the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx handled the Smollett case, and if necessary, to reopen the prosecution of Smollett.

Smollett is an actor who starred on the Fox network hit show “Empire.”

Judge Michael P. Toomin ruled in favor of retired Appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien’s motion for appointment of a special counsel.

Last month, Toomin sent out a letter in regard to seeking those interested in serving in the capacity.

According to state law: Prior to appointing a private attorney as special counsel, “the court shall contact public agencies, including, but not limited to, the Office of Attorney General, Office of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor or local state’s attorney’s offices throughout the state, to determine a public prosecutor’s availability to serve as a special prosecutor at no cost to the county and shall appoint a public agency if they are able and willing to accept the appointment”

In a letter to Toomin, Rowe said, “It would be irresponsible for me to devote time and resources away from my office while we have open murder and sexual assault cases that demand our full attention at home in Kankakee County.”

In late January, Smollett told investigators he was attacked by two men, who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him. He said they tied a rope around his neck and poured an unknown substance on him.

Chicago police investigators determined Smollett paid two brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundair, to stage the attack and take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

However, Foxx’s office did not press charges.

Prosecutors dismissed 16 charges of filing a false police report. They said Smollett and his attorneys agreed to forfeit his $10,000 in bail money and he had performed community service.

In February, Foxx said she recused herself because she had communications with a Smollett family member as the investigation of the reported attack was ongoing.

Foxx changed her explanation in March. She said it was because of false rumors she was related to Smollett.

An independent investigator is looking into Foxx’s handling of the case.

A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.

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