Jussie Smollett indicted on six counts for faking attack
Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a grand jury on six counts for filing false reports that he was a victim of a hate crime.
CHICAGO — Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett is facing a new six-count indictment for filing false reports last year that he was the victim of a hate crime.
According to USA Today, Smollett had told police that he was beaten by two masked men while walking near his Chicago apartment on January 29, 2019. He said the attackers shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured a chemical substance over him, and wrapped a noose around his neck.
CNN reports that while Chicago police initially investigated the incident as a hate crime, prosecutors later claimed Smollett paid the two men – brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo – to stage the attack for publicity.
Court documents indicate that on January 22, 2019, Jussie Smollett received a threatening letter at the studio where the show 'Empire' is filmed. It came with a white powdery substance that was later determined to be ibuprofen."
Disappointed by the studio's handling of the letter, the actor met with the Osundairo brothers three days later, and asked them to stage an attack on him.
According to prosecutors, Smollett wanted the assault to happen the night of January 28 near his Streeterville apartment. He told Abel to hurt him, but not too badly, and Ola to put a rope around his neck, pour gasoline on him, and yell, "This is MAGA country!"
He then gave the brothers $100 to buy rope, gasoline, ski masks, gloves, and red MAGA baseball caps needed for the attack.
On January 27, Smollett drove the brothers to the scene where he wanted the assault to take place, pointing out a surveillance camera that would capture the incident. He instructed them to pour bleach instead of gasoline, and not to bring their cellphones, then gave a $3,500 personal check payable to Abel.
A flight delay on Smollett's part pushed the plan back to 2 a.m. on the 29th. The actor called Abel at 12:49 a.m. once his plane landed. Minutes later, the brothers hailed an Uber, switching to a cab midway that took them three blocks from the scene. The attack took place on 2:04 a.m. as instructed, though out of view of the camera. The brothers fled the scene afterward, taking a taxi home.
ABC News reports that the actor had initially been indicted in March 2019 for 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct, before charges were all dropped just weeks later. Prosecutors said Smollett had forfeited his $10,000 bail and done community service.
Following backlash from the dismissal, a judge assigned special prosecutor Dan Webb to look into why the original charges were dropped.
After weighing the extensive nature of Smollett's false police reports and the resources expended by Chicago PD to investigate his allegations, Webb determined there are reasonable grounds to further prosecute the actor, adding that it is "in the interest of justice."
Another factor that contributed to this decision is that the Cook County State Attorney's Office could not provide evidence of similar cases that showed Smollett's received no special treatment.
Smollett is due in court on February 24.
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