The Curious Case of Jussie Smollett

Let me just issue a warning prior to writing this article.  It will be brutally honest, seen as politically incorrect by many people, and it may seem uncaring. Alas, it is not.  It is written with a true detective’s desire for a search for the truth and for justice.

I won’t try to explain the “politically correct” issue as it would require an entire book to do so.  I know it is brutally honest and it is caring because it comes from my heart and soul and all of my experiences investigating some of the most terrible crimes committed by human beings. I am a retired NYPD Detective who worked for 6 years assigned to the Manhattan Special Victims Squad where I was responsible for investigating sex crimes, rape, serial rape, sexual homicide, felony sexual assault, and child abuse.  As is the case with such crimes they also included elements of other crimes such as armed robbery, burglary, kidnapping, etc. I treated each and every one of my victims as if they were family-mother or father, sister or brother, son or daughter.

During my time at the Manhattan Special Victims Squad I found, to my surprise, that at least 20-30 % of the cases that passed through my office were actually false reports. This surprised me because I was led to believe that only 2 % of all rapes were false reports. I later found this much cited statistic was based on a statement and not an actual study.

Against the State: An ... Rockwell Jr., Llewelly... Best Price: $5.02 Buy New $5.52 (as of 11:35 UTC - Details) But if 20-30 % of the cases were false reports that meant 70-80 % were very real and very terrifying. I would handle a large caseload which might include a woman raped with a broken bottle, another woman raped and sodomized at gunpoint, and another where a child was apparently burned with an iron. These would sit atop my desk and I would be in charge of prioritizing them.  I had a fortunate career and was trained by the best detective I have ever known so I pushed myself to bring the perpetrators of these cases to justice very quickly.  Yet it seemed just as I had cleared one case with an arrest another case would replace it.  I saw “my victims” as family so I plowed through my investigative work to apprehend the “right” offender and elicit a proper non coerced confession.  I was not a natural investigator or interrogator but I was trained well and my clearance rate for any given year would waver between 88%-93%.  I wanted that elusive 100% but it was never to be and in the case of a stranger rapist I was dealing with psychopaths who could be elusive-especially if I had many other cases that needed my attention stacked on my desk.  Each of these cases represented a victim who I dearly cared about. Whether you were a victim from Harlem or the Upper East Side you, as a victim, would always get my best effort.  I would not allow myself any slack.

When I spoke to my victims about those men and women who falsely reported sexual assaults or crimes to the police they were-to a person-horrified.  They were horrified that those false reports would take away manpower and resources from their own cases.  I agreed.

I have been involved in the arrest of approximately 300 men and women for falsely reporting a crime.  In order to effect this type of arrest a Detective would need a full confession and motive that makes sense to the experienced Sex Crimes D.A.s assigned to the case.  The Detective would need to clearly and concisely explain to the D.A. exactly where the flaws in logic appeared and where the physical evidence did not match the story. I would often see crime scene staging that I would also present to the D.A. It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I thought it was harder to make a false report arrest than making an arrest of an actual perpetrator.  But to me it was vital.  To my real victims it was almost as important as making an arrest in their own case.  These victims knew I needed to use my time to apprehend the person who attacked them-sometimes brutally.  I know this because I asked my victims about this topic with every chance I had.  And again, they all agreed that false reports were not only wrong but by taking time away from their investigations it might lead to a perpetrator escaping justice and raping or killing more victims.

My passion led me to author published journal articles on false reports. I have instructed classes on the topic internationally.  I also developed a false report red flag index for investigators: The BAFRI (Baeza False Report Index).  The BAFRI makes it very clear that just because there is a red flag does not mean the victim is lying, just that the breaks in logic need to be accounted for in order to determine the validity of the account. Red flags are not 100% foolproof and I warn investigators of this fact in my articles.

The Curious Case of Jussie Smollet


Let us take a closer look and examine in detail the allegations made by Jussie Smollett who said he was attacked at 2:00 AM at a Subway sandwich shop in the city of Chicago.  I have not examined any of the case material in this matter and I hesitate to rely on media accounts in such cases.  I can only rely on media accounts that quote Smollett and include any of his statements or those of the police and alleged witnesses.  Keeping that in mind, I have listed a series of questions and red flags that are breaks in logic that need to be explained and logical questions needed to be answered correctly to properly investigate in Smollett’s claim:

  1. Why is there no video footage of the attack?
  2. Did he actually purchase anything from the Subway sandwich shop?
  3. If so, did he eat his meal there or take it out with him? Did he order a soda or some chips?
  4. If he did carry out some items from the Subway shop-were they found?
  5. A follow up to #4 is that recent surveillance camera footage showed him holding his sandwich in his hand when entering his building. I find it very unusual someone would hold on to their sandwich after such a shocking attack.
  6. If he was on the phone with his manager when allegedly attacked, why not call 911 immediately after the incident? Why walk home after being “assaulted” by two men with ski masks covering their faces. Wasn’t fear an issue?
  7. If his manager heard what was happening why didn’t he then call 911 while putting his client on hold?
  8. Why keep the rope that the offenders allegedly placed around his neck in place for at least 40 minutes after the initial attack? Video surveillance cameras depict the rope around his neck as he enters his building.
  9. During the attack he claims to have been beaten about the face but a photo of him in the hospital after the event shows minor abrasions to the right side of his face. Abrasions are similar to skinned knees and fingernail scrapes-to name just two. I see no injuries resembling those of someone who took a beating about the face.  There appear to be no other injuries visible.
  • He claims the offenders sprayed or poured a bleach-smelling substance on him. If this is so it could be a clue since bleach typically freezes between approximately 5 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It was 2 degrees out at the time of the alleged attack.
  • He wears his wristwatch on his left hand so I could be mistaken but it is likely he is right-handed (as most right handers wear their watch on their left wrist. The point of this is that when injuries are self-inflicted on the face it is often the case that they injure the strong hand side of the face. This is natural if one was to do this.
  • Why didn’t his alleged attackers take his phone as they must have known it could be used as evidence-especially since he was supposed to be talking to his manager at the time?
  1. Someone else called 911 forty minutes after the attack. Why didn’t he call 911 himself? It still seems unclear at what time the police were notified.
  • Why and how did he make his way to the hospital? If he was allegedly attacked in such a manner wouldn’t an ambulance be appropriate?
  • Why delay any apprehension of the alleged perpetrators by delaying handing over his phone to the police? Could he have borrowed a phone in the meantime? This would seem a small inconvenience in this situation.
  • What are we to make of the threatening letter received by Fox a week before this attack? I’ve seen photos of the letter and there are letters cut out from some sort of magazine or book. This very well may be what often turns out to be a red flag in that that the letter was sent by the alleged victim or someone they knew to support a future claim of an attack. Many letters sent with cut-out letters from newspapers and magazines are often, but not always, indicators of a false report of a threat.
  • Why did he hand over redacted phone records that do not provide evidence of the time he was allegedly on the phone with his manager?

Battlefield America: T... John W. Whitehead Best Price: $10.95 Buy New $18.80 (as of 10:15 UTC - Details) One might logically ask if this were a false report what is the motive? Motive is dynamic and is not always easy to decipher.  In this case, if it is indeed a false report the motive is simple: Publicity.

Let us hope the police investigate these questions, learn the true course of events, and, no matter what they find, let truth lead to justice.

I will leave the reader with this 1893 quote from the “father of criminal investigation” Hans Gross:

In order to know exactly the attitude to be maintained towards what has passed, all the circumstances of the crime must be clearly taken into account and submitted to strict logical examination from their commencement to their last stage. If at a given moment something has not been explained, suspicion is justified and pause must be made at the point where the logical sequence is broken, for the purpose of examining if there is no better way of explaining the fact. If one is found the rest of the inquiry is easy.[1]

[1] Gross, Hans. (1949).  Criminal Investigation 4th Edition, Sweet and Maxwell Limited.