Actor Jussie Smollett, who made headlines in early 2019 after claiming he was assault in the street as a result of a hate crime, will face a new possible legal challenge as a judge recently ruled that all of his data from the time period of the alleged assault — including emails, location data and messages — will be turned over for review.
According to The Washington Examiner, Google was also notified by Cook County Judge Michael Toomin to turn over the same data from Smollet’s manager at the time. Specifically, Google will be required to provide “drafted and deleted messages; any files in their Google Drive cloud storage services; any Google Voice texts, calls and contacts; search and web browsing history.”
Experts say that this kind of data — especially location data that a mobile phone continually tracks on essentially everyone who carries one — could be crucial in determining where Smollett was on the night he claims he was assaulted.
Smollett made national news when he said that two men attacked him and shouted anti-gay and racist messages at him while also allegedly shouting pro-Trump messages. Smollett was later charged by a grand jury for lying about the attack, which Chicago police appeared to have provided overwhelming evidence in support of that.
As the Examiner reported, police at the time were able to make a solid case against the Empire actor using redacted phone data and surveillance tape, along with a confession from the two brothers who claim Smollett hired them to stage the attack.
With the hand-over of Smollett’s treasure trove of Google data, new light could presumably be shed on what actually happened that night.
Smollett maintains that he’s innocent of fabricating a story and still claims he was attacked by the two in hate-crime fashion.
According to CNN, the Chicago mayor labeled his story as a “hoax,” after the prosecutor on Smollett’s case suddenly and surprisingly dropped all charges without providing explanation that satisfied anyone who was paying attention.
A special prosecutor was appointed to the case late last year and combined with the judge’s order to examine Smollett’s Google data, the case could theoretically take an entirely new turn in the near future.