Second Update: FOX is considering removing Jussie Smollett from Empire. Sources close to the production told Variety that producers are weighing whether to suspend him after he was charged with filing a false police report.
A spokesperson for 20th Century FOX Television, which produces the series, declined to comment. It has previously supported the star.
Updated: Empire‘s Jussie Smollett has now been charged with filing a false police report.
Chicago Police will contact his lawyers to proceed with his arrest. If convicted, Smollett could face one to three years in prison.
Empire‘s Jussie Smollett has now been named as a suspect by Chicago Police, three weeks after he reported he was the victim of a hate crime.
Detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury, which is expected to determine whether to indict him on a charge of filing a false police report.
Variety reports Chicago detectives have been seeking to interview him since Saturday, following new evidence changed the “trajectory” of the case.
Smollett has not spoken with police since officers released two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, after questioning. Local media claim the brothers told detectives that Smollett paid them to stage the attack and there is some speculation it was linked to him being dismissed from Empire.
Smollett has angrily denied all claims.
“He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” his attorneys said in a statement. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Federal authorities are also investigating a purported threat letter that was sent to Smollett at the Empire studio prior to the alleged attack.
Meanwhile Empire producer 20th Century FOX TV said they stand by the actor’s on-set conduct and have never discussed his exit from the show.
“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” the network and studio said in a statement.
A source told The Hollywood Reporter that the plan for Smollett’s character is in flux while the investigation continues.
Cook County’s prosecutor Kim Foxx has also abruptly recused herself from the investigation Tuesday evening “out of an abundance of caution” based upon her “familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” according to a statement from her office.