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Jussie Smollett faces new charges in Chicago over alleged assault

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Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury over allegations that he falsely reported he was the victim of a hate crime in early 2019. 

Special prosecutor Dan Webb’s office announced the indictment of Smollett on six disorderly conduct charges after Webb determined “reasonable grounds” existed to further prosecute the actor. He is due in court Feb. 24, according to the office’s statement.

“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,” the office said in a statement obtained by The Hill.

The actor told Chicago police in January 2019 that he was attacked by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him and wrapped a rope around his neck. 

Smollett said the alleged assailants shouted the pro-Trump phrase “This is MAGA country” and that one of them poured an unknown chemical substance on him.

Police initially investigated the event as a hate crime but then shifted the investigation into Smollett and his claims.

Smollett, 37, was initially charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report with police. Prosecutors say he made the report to increase his salary on “Empire.”

But the Cook County State’s Attorney Office dropped all charges against the actor weeks after the allegations surfaced and with little explanation, sparking backlash from the city’s Democratic mayor, police officials and conservatives including President Trump. In response to the dropped charges, a Cook County judge appointed Webb to investigate the case. 

Trump, who had initially called the alleged attack “horrible,” slammed Smollett, tweeting, “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?”

The former “Empire” actor also faces a lawsuit from Chicago, which is requesting $130,000 for the cost of police resources and prosecutors when they looked into Smollett’s allegedly false report. 

The Fox series dropped Smollett from its cast amid the controversy, but one producer said in December it was possible he could return for “Empire’s” final season.

Kathy Fieweger, a spokesperson for Chicago’s Law Department, said the city looks forward to reviewing the indictment.

“As we have said previously, the City stands by our original complaint seeking to recover costs for Mr. Smollett’s false statements,” she said. “We again thank the Chicago Police Department detectives for their hard work on the original investigation.”

Smollett’s legal team did not respond to a request for further comment.

—Updated at 8:04 p.m.

Tags Chicago Dan Webb Donald Trump Empire Hate crime Jussie Smollett Smollett case

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