Former Empire star Jussie Smollett has been indicted on six counts by an Illinois grand jury for false reports. The actor reported in January of last year that he was the victim of a hate crime, though Chicago police later stated that Smollett allegedly orchestrated the attack himself.
Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed that he was a victim of a racist and homophobic attack on January 29th, 2019, just outside his apartment. The Chicago police began investigating the case as a hate crime, but ultimately came to the conclusion that Smollett had allegedly hired two individuals to stage the attack for publicity. The two perpetrators named by Chicago PD were brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, both actors who had met Smollett through his work on Empire. Smollett has consistently denied any involvement in staging the attack.
The case against Smollett began in the spring of last year when the actor was initially indicted in March 2019. However, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped all charges against the actor, after he had paid $10,000 in bail money and done community service. Foxx has since stated that she feels her handling of the case was a misstep, as she addresses in a recent re-election campaign video:
I ran for Cook County State’s Attorney four years ago because we needed to change criminal justice in our county. Today, I’m officially announcing that I’m running for re-election. We’ve gotten a lot done, and we can’t go back now. pic.twitter.com/0ECV7BRJGH
— Kim Foxx (@KimFoxxforSA) November 19, 2019
This past August, former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb was assigned to investigate how the local prosecutors had handled Smollett’s case. In a statement, Webb confirmed that his office “”has now completed all of its investigative steps regarding Jussie Smollett, and has made the decision to further prosecute Mr. Smollet.” Smollett is charged with making four separate false reports to the Chicago police.
Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian claims that the decision to re-indict Smollett is entirely political. She noted that the special prosecutor “has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett,” and instead drew attention to the fact that Attorney Foxx is currently running for re-election: “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 is set to appear in court on February 24th. The actor is facing a civil suit from the city of Chicago, and may be required to pay reimbursement for the cost of investigating his reported attack. The actor filed a countersuit in November.