Two top staffers for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx are resigning following the office’s decision to drop 16 charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who is suspected of having staged a hate crime against himself.
According to the Chicago Tribune, chief ethics officer April Perry and special prosecutor Mark Rotert, who leads the Conviction Integrity Unit, will step down on May 3.
In a statement to HuffPost, Foxx praised Rotert for making the unit “a national model,” noting that during his tenure, “we have vacated the convictions of over 70 wrongfully convicted men and women.”
“We have created national standards and protocols for reviewing past convictions,” she said. “The people of Cook County have been well served by his leadership and he has well earned his retirement.”
Foxx also expressed gratitude for Perry, whom she called “a valuable resource to the office in ensuring that we operate with the highest levels of integrity and professionalism.”
“I wish her well in her new endeavors,” Foxx added.
Perry is leaving to work as a general counsel for a tech startup, the Chicago Sun-Times learned from an email to Foxx’s staffers. Rotert, who plans to travel with his wife, told the outlet that the Smollett case “had absolutely zero percent to do with my decision.”
Foxx’s office told the Tribune Perry’s departure was also unrelated to the case.
On Wednesday, HuffPost obtained a trove of text messages that indicated Foxx was frustrated over the number of charges against the “Empire” actor, suggesting people like R. Kelly, who is accused of sexual abuse, weren’t being penalized enough.
The messages also showed that Foxx had continued to communicate with her team despite having recused herself informally from Smollett’s case after it was revealed that she had connections to potential witnesses.
His attorneys claimed that he 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 judgement.”
Foxx’s office announced it came to an “agreement” instead of a plea deal with Smollett, which didn’t involve community service.