Jussie Smollett indicted by special prosecutor


FILE – In this March 14, 2019, file photo, Empire actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court Building for his hearing in Chicago. Smollett faces new charges for reporting an attack that Chicago authorities contend was staged to garner publicity, according to media reports Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. The charges include disorderly conduct counts, according to the reports that cite unidentified sources. (AP Photo/Matt Marton, File)

CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett has been indicted by special prosecutor Dan Webb, nearly a year after charges against the former “Empire” actor for allegedly orchestrating a hoax attack on himself were dropped.

WGN has confirmed Smollett has been indicted on six counts, among them disorderly conduct, the same offense he was accused of in 2019.

In January of 2019, Smollett claimed he was the victim of a hateful attack in the touristy Chicago neighborhood of Streeterville. Police and prosecutors claimed that an investigation proved the alleged attack was a hoax.

The state’s attorney’s office charged Smollett in February, 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for purportedly orchestrating the incident. However, it dropped all of the charges a month later with little explanation, angering city officials and the police.

Smollett told police he was walking home early on Jan. 29, 2019 when two masked men approached him, made racist and homophobic insults, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing. He said his assailants, at least one of whom he said was white, told him he was in “MAGA country” — a reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Several weeks later, authorities alleged that Smollett had paid two black friends $3,500 to help him stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary as an actor on “Empire” and wanted to drum up publicity for his career.

A former state appellate judge, Sheila O’Brien, petitioned for a special prosecutor, leading to Judge Michael Toomin’s surprise ruling in June that one was warranted.

Toomin appointed Webb in August.

No warrant has been issued for Smollett’s arrest. He’s due in court Feb. 24.

This is a developing story.

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