Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a Cook County, Illinois grand jury on six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making “false reports,” special prosecutor Dan K. Webb announced on Tuesday. In 2019, Smollett claimed he was a victim of a hate crime.
The actor, who had an apartment in Chicago while starring in the show Empire, filed a police report in January 2019 after he alleged he suffered a racist and homophobic attack near his Chicago dwelling, which sparked a hate crime investigation.
Following the detailed investigation, authorities claimed Smollett staged the attack, alleging the actor paid two acquaintances — brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo — to help in the scheme. Smollett was indicted and he pleaded not guilty. In a stunning abrupt turn, prosecutors dropped all charges against the actor in March 2019, with the actor agreeing to forfeit his $10,000 bail to the city. The decision caused an uproar amidst city officials.
In August, Webb was assigned as special prosecutor to investigate how the case was handled. In a statement via CNN, Webb said his office “has now completed all of its investigative steps regarding Jussie Smollett, and has made the decision to further prosecute Mr. Smollett.”
“Based on the recommendation of the OSP (Office of the Special Prosecutor), a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Jussie Smollett with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime,” Webb said in his statement.
“This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD [Chicago Police Department] detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett’s pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution,” Tina Glandian, an attorney for Smollett, said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “And one of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him.
“After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett,” Glandian continued. “Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.”
The city of Chicago is suing Smollett to recoup costs incurred from the police investigation into his attack claims. In November, Smollett filed a countersuit. According to CNN, Smollett’s attorneys claim the criminal charges against the actor were brought forth in “bad faith” and “based on the Osundairo Brothers’ false, self-serving, and unreliable statements,” per court documents.
Smollett is expected to appear in court on February 24th for an arraignment on the new charges.