The Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with six counts of lying to the Chicago police after he alleged to be a victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January 2019. Special prosecutor Dan Webb indicted the actor.
Smollett was charged on account of disorderly conduct, 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. He is scheduled to appear in the court on February 24.
What were the allegations levelled by Smollett?
Last year in January, Smollett had filed a case with Chicago police alleging that two masked men attacked him. The actor said that the attackers punched him in the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on him before wrapping a rope around his neck. The attackers also made racist and homophobic comments as they beat him up.
In his complaint to the police, Smollett said that the attackers spoke about MAGA, the Make America Great Again slogan used by President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. The Chicago police had maintained that they were investigating the case which appeared to be a racist and homophobic attack.
However, in February, the case took a turn when the police instead arrested Smollett and accused him of staging the attack for publicity. In its report, the police said that Smollett had paid $3,500 to two friends to stage the attack in a bid "to promote his career" as he was "dissatisfied with his salary". However, the charges levelled against Smollett were dropped by the court in March. The Chicago Police department and the then Mayor Rahm Emanuel accused the court of letting the actor go scot-free.
Special prosecutor found claims made by Smollett were false
In August 2019, Webb, a former attorney was appointed as a special prosecutor by the Cook County Judge Michael Toomin, to probe the reasons for the charges being dropped. In his final report, Webb said: "The actor made 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's statement said: "It was concluded that further prosecution of Smollett is in the interest of justice. The evidence found against Smollett by the State's Attorney's office at the time of the indictment was "strong," and that the office hasn't identified any new evidence that would have changed their view."
The city of Chicago had filed a suit against Smollett seeking compensation of $130,105.15 towards the cost of overtime paid to the officers investigating his alleged attack claim.
Smollett's attorney raises questions over the integrity of the investigation
Soon after the Smollett was indicted, his attorney, Tina Glandian, released a statement. It read: "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. 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. 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," continued the statement.