The now controversial actor, Jussie Smollett, who stars on Empire, and reported falsely–according to police–that he was beaten by hate criminals, has been indicted on 16 felony counts by a Cook County grand jury.
His charges are 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making false reports.
All of the charges are related to statements that Smollett gave to police officers that his hate crime happened, according to CNN’s reports. For instance, Smollett had said that he was attacked by a white man, and it came to light, instead, that he’d allegedly paid two African-American men (American men of Nigerian descent) to attack him.
Smollett had told Chicago police officers that two attackers who shouted “MAGA country” at him (in reference to the Make America Great Again hats that have been associated with racism), poured a substance on him, and tied a noose around his neck. Tests reportedly showed that the substance was bleach.
“I smelled bleach,” Smollett said. “I know the smell of bleach and I saw on my sweatshirt it had marks on it – like spots on it when you have a bad bleach job. So, then I was like, ‘There’s bleach on me too!’”
Smollett’s quotes, if false, only served to increase the hype of his story.
“When the police came, I kept the clothes on me…I kept the rope,” Smollett said of the alleged noose around his neck. “It wasn’t wrapped around [my neck], but it was around because I wanted them to see. I wanted them to see what this was.”
Police investigated Smollett’s case as a hate crime, but then found that he had paid two men $3,500 to stage an attack on him.
Police investigators, specifically Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson, said that Smollett had staged his attack “because he was dissatisfied with his salary.” Johnson was referencing this information, based on reports that his police department had gotten from the two who’d been allegedly paid to attack Smollett.
Smollett has denied police reports.
Still, once the Chicago PD finished their investigation, they charged Smollett with felony disorderly conduct.
Smollett was granted a $100,000 bail, and he paid a $10,000 bond. He had to give up his passport as well.
“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,” his attorneys said in a statement last month. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
The show, Empire, on which Smollett stars, decided to remove his character from the final two episodes of the show’s current season after his arrest.
The producers cut his character to “avoid further disruption on set,” reportedly.
Smollett, is black and openly gay; he additionally plays a gay character on Empire.
Initially, the 36-year-old actor had been charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct at the end of February.
Now, a grand jury has tacked on an additional 15-count felony indictment against him, due to the magnanimous nature of him claiming falsely–according to police–to be the victim of racist and homophobic attacks.
At the time he was initially charged, Chicago’s police chief said that Smollett had paid two brothers to stage an assault on him.
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us,” the producers of the show said in a statement. “Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out.”
Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, and showrunner Brett Mahoney were among the lead producers who signed the statement.
Their show is in its fifth season and was said to have been filming in Chicago when the Smollett incident happened.
In an interview with Robin Roberts after his alleged hoax incident occurred, Smollett had said on national television, “I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community, young black children to know how strong that they are, to know the power that they hold in their little pinky.”
Smollett’s attorneys report that they have no statement to give about his 16 felony counts at this time.