Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a Chicago grand jury after he allegedly filed false police reports in January 2019.
Star of the American musical drama, Empire, Smollett allegedly hired two brothers to attack him in downtown Chicago on 29 January. At the time Smollett said the attack was carried out by Donald Trump supporters who targeted him for being black and gay.
Reporting on the indictment, CBS Chicago said the jury found “Jussie Smollett knew that at the time … there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed.”
The grand jury returned 16 felony counts against Smollett in a development that expands the case against the actor. If convicted the actor could see himself being put on probation or spending up to three years in jail.
Police allege Smollett paid two brothers $3500 to stage an attack on the actor and to buy a noose and masks from Uptown Chicago. Police say they have the check.
Smollett said the check paid the brothers for personal training.
Smollett denies these allegations. His lawyer, Mark Geragos, spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper following the indictment describing the media attention as a “gang bang.”
“I’ve never seen a media pendulum swing more quickly and more viciously and rob somebody of their presumption of innocence like this case has.
“It’s startling the way people assume that he’s guilty,” Geragos said.