Jussie Smollett to face new charges over 2019 incident

Former Empire star indicted by US authorities over alleged hoax attack in 2019.

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett faces new charges in relation to an alleged hoax attack.

He has been indicted by a special prosecutor on six counts accusing him of lying to Chicago police.

In January 2019 Smollett said he was walking home in Chicago when two men approached him, shouting racist and homophobic slurs, beat him up, poured bleach on him and looped a rope around his neck. He claimed the attackers said “This is Maga country”, referring to Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again election campaign slogan.

But shortly afterwards, Chicago police said he faked the attack. Smollett was charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly hiring two men to stage a racist, homophobic attack against him in downtown Chicago. He has repeatedly denied making up or orchestrating the attack.

Prosecutors last March agreed to drop criminal charges against him, a decision which at the time drew claims of a “whitewash of justice”.

In August a judge appointed special prosecutor Dan Webb to look into why the original charges were dropped, including whether Kim Foxx, the Cook county state’s attorney, had unduly influenced the decision to drop charges.

“Based on the recommendation of the OSP (Office of the Special Prosecutor), a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Jussie Smollett with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime,” Webb has now said.

Smollett also faces a civil suit that demands reimbursement for the cost of investigating his reported attack. He filed a countersuit in November.

The actor was dropped by Empire and did not return for its final season.

Smollett is due in court on 24 February.

Source: The Guardian, CNN