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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When someone is a victim of crime — many times, coming forward to tell their stories to police is not easy.
With Empire actor Jussie Smollett now accused of fabricating his story of a racially charged, homophobic fueled attack, many fear it could have a chilling effect on true victims.
“It sets us back,” said former Broward Prosecutor of 20 years Gregg Rossman. “Now, when somebody else tries to take advantage of that “victim’s status” and use it to their benefit, some personal or Politcal benefit, it takes honest victims now already who are truly worried shame and humiliation, ‘why am i going to come forward,’ they’re going to think of me as that person.”
He also fears, if the allegations against Smollett are proven true, it could have a devastating impact in the courtroom with juries.
“When a case like this happens, it kind of just tilts the table against honest victims, where jurors are sitting and thinking, ‘even though things may sound like they add up, maybe they’re not as purported to be,’” he said.
Mary Reidel is the president of Women in Distress.
She knows its tough for victims to come forward. But she sees this as a way to let them know the vetting process works.
“I think, in this case, probably the upside is the facts were investigated and that survivor or victim has to believe that their set of facts will be,” she said. “I don’t interpret it as a chilling effect.”