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Jussie Smollett Makes First Court Appearance after Being Indicted By Special Prosecutor

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves court in Chicago, Illinois, March 26, 2019. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

Jussie Smollett returned to a Chicago courtroom Monday to face new charges filed by special prosecutor Dan Webb in the wake of allegations that the former actor paid two acquaintances to stage an anti-gay and racist attack on him in January of last year.

Smollett, who maintains his innocence, is charged with disorderly conduct for making false statements about the attack to police and detectives, low-level felonies that should result in bond.

Chicago police investigated the case and found that Smollett had hired his personal trainers, two Nigerian brothers, to stage the attack, so that he could report the incident and benefit from the resulting media attention. The brothers said in a defamation suit that Smollett had “directed every aspect of the attack,” including throwing a chemical substance on him.

Last February, Smollett was indicted by a grand jury on sixteen charges, including a felony charge for filing a false police report. However, all charges against him were abruptly dropped by prosecutors.

In August, Webb was appointed to conduct a probe into the case, and he returned with a six-count indictment earlier this month after finding that Smollett made “four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime.”

Smollett’s defense lawyers responded to the renewed charges by claiming that the case “is clearly all about politics, not justice.” They also suggested that integrity of the investigation was compromised because Smollett had filed a civil case against the Chicago and its police department for “malicious prosecution.”

Smollett still faces a federal suit filed by the city for $130,000, in order to reimburse Chicago for investigating Smollett’s original accusations.

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