We’ve all heard the expression when you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. An extreme example of this was the sad case of the senior Australian judge Marcus Einfeld who lied to get out of a $77 speeding ticket in August 2006. That lie was compounded with lie after lie until he had even dragged in his own 94 year old mother. In March 2009, he received a sentence of 3 years imprisonment – 2 years without parole. This sad, pathetic tale was related by the late Clive James in his monologue The Speeding Judge.
Two American media personalities are currently driving down that same road. Singer-songwriter Kesha Sebert will face no prison time because her false allegations against her producer were made only in public, in private, and in civil litigation, not to the police. On the other hand, the actor Jussie Smollett is in a whole heap of legal trouble, because his false allegations against two imaginary Donald Trump supporters led to Chicago police mounting an intensive investigation, wasting precious time and resources that could have been spent investigating real crimes.
The alleged attack on Smollett sounded absurd from the beginning, but every day police officers around the world hear prosaic stories that turn out to be false and absurd ones that are true, so they can hardly be criticised for taking him seriously. Or can they? Jussie seems to think they can.
Initially, Smollett was let off with a slap on the wrist thanks to prosecutor Kim Foxx going to extraordinary lengths to bury the case with a $10,000 de facto fine and a laughable few hours of so-called community service. Smollett’s behaviour and the Foxx let off were so outrageous that even Rahm Emanuel spoke out against the combined travesty.
After being re-indicted on essentially the same charges, Smollett could still have done the decent thing, the sensible thing, and admitted the lie. Instead, he is continuing to protest his innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt including the testimony of the two men he paid to stage the incident, who are now cooperating witnesses.
His latest attempt to evade the consequences of his actions ended in failure when the Supreme Court of Illinois dismissed an application to have the proceedings stayed. At present, Smollett appears to be unemployed. Even so, as a once highly paid actor, he could still probably afford to pay the hundred and thirty thousand dollars demanded by the Chicago Police Department, but his latest appeal will have added to that, and if he continues to fight this hopeless case all the way, he will almost certainly end up bankrupt as well as behind bars.
What sentence can he expect? That is anybody’s guess. The one aspect of this case which while not exactly a mitigating factor, helps him, is that no innocent person was arrested, as often happens when women falsely cry rape, for example. All the same, public policy will surely dictate a custodial sentence, and if he is offered a plea bargain of anything up to three years behind bars, he will do well to take it.
Regarding Kesha Sebert, after her last court hearing she was ordered to pay plaintiff Dr Luke over three hundred and seventy thousand dollars in legal fees. She is appealing this ruling on the grounds that the judge erred in her decision, in particular, Miss Sebert is arguing that the text she sent to Lady Gaga in which she claimed Dr Luke raped Katy Perry as well, is privileged. In other words, she wants to have her cake and eat it. If that objection were allowed, then she could in theory text hundreds or even thousands of people in and around the music business the same message. Dr Luke’s lawyers will undoubtedly have something to say about that, and so will the appeal court.
While she may feel genuinely aggrieved over her contractual obligations, this is nothing new in the music business, and however much talent she has, she would probably not have achieved the success she has without Dr Luke’s input. She would do well to make her peace with him on any reasonable terms. It is clear from information in the public domain that she has psychological problems, and even if she too doesn’t end up on Carey Street, she may find no one wants to work with her, or book her, in the not-too-distant future.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.