Jussie Smollett Indicted by Special Prosecutor for Allegedly Faking Report of 2019 Attack

Jussie Smollett has denied allegations that he lied to police by saying he was attacked in what authorities later claimed was a staged incident to draw attention to himself

Jussie-Smollett
Jussie Smollett. Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty

Jussie Smollett was indicted Tuesday by a special prosecutor who alleges the Empire actor made an intentionally false report when he claimed last year that he’d been the target of a racist, homophobic early morning attack on a Chicago street.

The six-count indictment, which was obtained by PEOPLE, revives the disorderly conduct allegations previously filed and then dropped in the case, and alleges that Smollett “knew at the time … there was no reasonable ground for believing that such an offense had been committed” when he claimed to police that he’d been assaulted by “two unknown offenders.”

The special prosecutor, Dan Webb, confirmed the latest charges in a news release, reports the Chicago Tribune.

In response to the charges, Smollett’s lawyer Tina Glandian said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, “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.”

Glandian added, “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,” Glandian continued. “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.”

Smollett, an openly gay black actor, originally was indicted in March 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing the false report claiming two men attacked him on January 29, 2019, while spewing racist and homophobic slurs.

Smollett pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police about the incident, which authorities later claimed he had staged with two acquaintances to draw attention to himself.

Later that same month, the charges against Smollett were dropped by the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Yet the state’s attorney’s office did not fully retreat from its initial decision to file charges or otherwise address whether prosecutors still believed he staged the attack, saying they “stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges.”

Smollett has always denied any wrongdoing.

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett. Theo Wargo/Getty

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After the charges were dropped, Smollett told reporters, “I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”

Smollett added, “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of doing what I was accused of.”

After the scandal, Smollett’s TV character on Empire, Jamal Lyon, was written off the show. Creator Lee Daniels confirmed in June that the character would not return for the sixth and final season on FX, though showrunner Brett Mahoney has said that Smollett’s character could make one last appearance.

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