Actor Jussie Smollett was indicted in Chicago on Tuesday and charged with six counts of disorderly conduct over false statements he allegedly made to the police in connection with an incident a year ago in which Smollett reported that he had been the victim of a hate crime.
Smollett, who had a starring role on Fox’s Empire, was hospitalized in January of 2019 after an assault in which he said two attackers poured bleach on him and wrapped a rope around his neck while chanting racist, homophobic, and pro-Trump slogans. Chicago Police initially investigated the attack as a hate crime, but in mid-February, they announced that they were looking into the possibility that Smollett had staged the attack himself. In March, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly staging the attack as part of an attempt to raise his public profile while renegotiating his salary on Empire. A few weeks later, charges against Smollett were unexpectedly dropped. The actor, who had already been removed from Empire’s two remaining episodes that season, did not return for the show’s final season, and until Tuesday, that was the end of the story.
Smollett’s case was originally handled by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, but the new indictments come from a special prosecutor who was assigned to the case by a judge in June over irregularities about the way Foxx removed herself from the Smollett case when his status changed from victim to suspect. That special prosecutor, Dan K. Webb, criticized Foxx’s office on Tuesday, saying they had failed to provide evidence that they’d received any new information exonerating Smollett before dropping charges, or any examples of other cases that had been handled in a similar fashion. He is continuing to investigate whether or not prosecutors engaged in any wrongdoing.
Neither the state’s attorney’s office nor Smollett have commented at this time; Smollett is due in court to answer these new charges on Monday, Feb. 24.