Jussie Smollett: US grand jury charges Empire actor over hate crime 'hoax'
JC News|March. 09, 2019
US actor Jussie Smollett has been charged by a grand jury in Chicago on 16 counts, accused of making a false report to police that he was the victim of a hate crime.
Smollett had previously appeared in court on a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, and left jail after posting $100,000 (£76,000) bail.
The 36-year-old actor had told police he had been attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs.
Officers later said that he staged the attack in an attempt to further his acting career.
Smollett, who stars in Empire, was last month suspended from the TV show following the charge.
He had reportedly apologised to the cast for any embarrassment caused by the incident but maintained his innocence.
Smollett told police in late January that he was physically attacked by two men in downtown Chicago while out getting food from a Subway restaurant at 2am.
The actor said the men shouted at him, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an "unknown substance" on him.
Actor Jussie Smollett removed from final episodes of TV show Empire
Police said Smollett, who is black and gay, told detectives the attackers also yelled he was in "MAGA country".
After an investigation, Chicago police said Smollett recruited two men to stage the attack because he was upset with his pay on the Fox show.
A lawyer for the actor called the grand jury indictment "vindictive" and "prosecutorial overkill".
In a statement, Mark Geragos said: "(The indictment) is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy."