Jussie Smollett indicted again for allegedly staging fake hate crime
Jussie Smollett is facing charges again in Chicago stemming from his claim last year that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed Tuesday that special prosecutor Dan Webb indicted the former Empire star in connection with making false claims to police.
"As the Cook County State's Attorney's Office does in all cases, the special prosecutor reviewed the facts, evidence, and the law, and determined charges were appropriate in this matter. We are unable to comment further as the matter is pending," the office tells Yahoo Entertainment in a statement.
In March, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report, but charges were unexpectedly dropped weeks later. City officials, including Chicago's mayor, were stunned by the decision. It prompted a Cook County judge to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the case in August.
Webb's office released a statement to Chicago's ABC7, saying a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Smollett, charging him with making four separate false reports to Chicago police "related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing he was not the victim of a crime."
An attorney for Smollett responded Tuesday evening.
"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 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," said Tina Glandian. "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."
Glandian continued, "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. 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."
Police have claimed all along that Smollett, with the help of the Osundairo brothers, orchestrated the hate crime in January 2019 to further his career. The actor, who is black and gay, said he was jumped by two men who put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him. Smollett alleged they shouted homophobic slurs and said he was in "MAGA country," referring to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan "Make America Great Again." The actor has maintained no wrongdoing.
After charges were dismissed, the city of Chicago sued Smollett for $130,000 to recoup investigative costs. The 37-year-old countersued alleging he’s the victim of malicious prosecution. Smollett claimed the false narrative pushed by cops caused him economic harm, "humiliation, mental anguish and extreme emotional distress."
Smollett has kept a low-profile over the past year, but emerged on social media to defend his character. In October, he replied to someone on Instagram, writing, "With all due respect brother, y'all can clown me all you want but my story has actually never changed and I haven't lied about a thing. Y'all can continue to be misinformed, internalized sheep, who believe what actual proven liars feed you or you can read the actual docs. Either way, I'mma be alright. I know me and what happened. You don't. So carry on. All love."
The actor is due in court Feb. 24.
[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Feb. 11, 2020 at 7:02 p.m. ET and has been updated to note a statement from Smollett’s lawyer.]
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