A Cook County, Illinois grand jury has returned a six-count indictment against actor Jussie Smollett for making false reports, a special prosecutor said Tuesday.
Smollett, who is gay and black, said he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack near his Chicago apartment on January 29, 2019.
Police say the actor orchestrated the incident and paid two men who were acquaintances from the TV show on which he starred — brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo — to stage the incident for publicity. The former “Empire” actor has repeatedly denied making up or orchestrating the attack.
Dan K. Webb, the special prosecutor assigned in August to investigate how local prosecutors handled the TV actor’s case, said in a statement he “has now completed all of its investigative steps regarding Jussie Smollett, and has made the decision to further prosecute Mr. Smollett.”
“Based on the recommendation of the OSP (Office of the Special Prosecutor), 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, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime,” he said.
Smollett was initially charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct, but Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx suddenly dropped all charges in March after a high-profile Chicago Police investigation that lasted several weeks and used dozens of investigators. Prosecutors said Smollett had forfeited $10,000 in bail money and done community service.
Neither Smollett’s publicist nor his attorney could be reached for comment Tuesday. Smollett did not immediately issue a statement following the indictment announcement.
In a statement, Foxx’s office said, “The special prosecutor reviewed the facts, evidence, and the law, and determined charges were appropriate in this matter.”
Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, who represents the Osundairo brothers, said they are aware of the new charges.
“As stated before, they are fully committed to the public knowing the truth about what occurred on January 29, 2019,” she said in a statement. “The Osundairo brothers will continue to cooperate with that process and they thank the Special Prosecutor’s office for their tireless work in seeing that justice was administered.”
Smollett faces a civil suit from the city that demands reimbursement for the cost of investigating his reported attack. He filed a countersuit in November.
Smollett’s attorneys claim the criminal charges against the him were brought forth in “bad faith” and “based on the Osundairo Brothers’ false, self-serving, and unreliable statements,” court documents say.
Smollett is scheduled to appear in court February 24.
By Pierre Meilhan, Brad Parks, and Ryan Young, CNN