Jussie Smollett Indicted On 16 Felony Counts By Grand Jury

Jussie Smollett Indicted On 16 Felony Counts By Grand Jury

Darren Sullivan
March 10, 2019

Whispers about Smollett's potential role in the alleged attack started with reports that he had not fully cooperated with police, and word that detectives in a city full of surveillance cameras could not find video of the attack.

A Chicago grand jury on Friday indicted Empire actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts for allegedly reporting a false hate crime against him in January. Cook County prosecutors chose to charge Smollett with the single count while awaiting the decision of a so-called "John Doe" jury, which sits daily in Chicago criminal court and analyzes evidence presented without knowledge of the perpetrator.

The new charges each carry a possible sentence of probation to four years.

Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct for making a false report of an attack on him in Chicago. Smollett turned himself in on February 21 and was released hours later after posting $10,000 bond.

CBS Chicago reported Smollett directed the two men to purchase rope, masks, and a hat at a store in Uptown Chicago. The actor's legal counsel told Fox News after Smollett was accused of filing the fake police report that the nation "witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system".

Chicago police investigated the case for three weeks, eventually identifying two brothers with ties to Smollett- one had worked his personal trainer, and both had been extras on episodes of "Empire"- as his "attackers".

Fox and representatives for Smollett did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.

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He will be arraigned on March 14.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time ... there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment says.

The US President initially called the alleged attack "horrible" but took to Twitter to condemn Smollett's "racist and unsafe comments".

Smollett is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, where he will likely enter a formal plea to the 16 counts.

The TV executives revealed that they have taken the decision to remove his character from the final two episodes of the fifth season, which is now airing.

During a recent press conference, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett exploited the "pain and anger of racism" in order to stage the attack.