Law & the Courts

Jussie Smollett Indicted by Special Prosecutor over Alleged Hate Crime Hoax

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves court after charges against him were dropped by state prosecutors in Chicago, Ill., March 26, 2019. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

Jussie Smollett was indicted Tuesday in Chicago by special prosecutor Dan Webb on charges relating to accusations that the actor paid two acquaintances to stage an anti-gay and racist attack on him in January of last year.

“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,” Webb’s office said.

The former “Empire” actor is scheduled to appear in court February 24, according to a local Fox affiliate.

Smollett, who is a gay African-American, told police last year that two men attacked him as he was walking home around 2a.m. on January 29, 2019, punching him and putting a noose around his neck while shouting, “this is MAGA country,” along with racist and anti-gay slurs.

Chicago police chief Eddie Johnson later announced that Smollett had hired two acquaintances of his, brothers from Nigeria, to stage the attack in order to raise his public profile. The brothers later sued Smollett’s attorneys for defamation, saying the actor, whom they worked with on “Empire” had “directed every aspect of the attack,” including throwing a chemical substance on him.

In February, Smollett was indicted by a grand jury on sixteen charges, including a felony charge for filing a false police report, after evidence from an investigation suggested he had in fact staged the attack in an attempt to boost his career. However, all charges against him were abruptly dropped and his record wiped clean shortly thereafter, sparking a public outcry.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said in a statement.

Later in August, a Chicago judge appointed Webb as special prosecutor to probe how local officials handled the case against Smollett.

Smollett continues to deny that the attack was fake.

“I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” Smollett said in March.

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