Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted on 16 felony counts by the Cook Country grand jury, and authorities continue to say he filed false reports of a crime. Smollett, 36, was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct upon his indictment. The actor’s lawyer and CNN legal analyst Mark Geragos, says the actor continues to maintain his innocence and called the indictment “prosecutorial overkill.”
He would go on to say: “This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines.” Smollett reported to Chicago police in January of this year that an incident took place in which he had been attacked by two men wearing MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats, which was initially investigated as a possible hate crime. CNN reports, “The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective. Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says.”
The indictment goes on to state, according to CNN, that “Smollett told police he was attacked by two men who used racial and homophobic slurs during an attack at 2 a.m.” Police would, later on, detain two Nigerian brothers who were “persons of interest” in mid-February, which revealed that Police believed that Smollett knew the men and offered them a total of $3,500 to stage the attack — allegedly. The men were soon released without any charges held against them.
It was then, later that month, that Smollett would be charged with felony disorderly conduct, in which the judge granted a $100,000 bail, and Smollett paid a $10,000 bond. Additionally, he was ordered to turn over his passport to authorities and remain supervised until the case is adjudicated.
Following the indictment, Smollett’s attorney’s issued a public statement in which they stated: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
The law in which Smollett is currently suspected of violating is in the subsection of Illinois state law, which states: “A person commits disorderly conduct when he or she knowingly … (4) Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed.”
The producers behind Empire decided to remove Smollett’s character, Jamal, from the season finale and the episode that is set before it. The decision came to ahead to “avoid further disruption on set,” producers said. Smollett has continued to deny any involvement in orchestrating an attack. He remains out on bail pending an arraignment Thursday.