Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett has reportedly been indicted by a special prosecutor in Chicago, according to ABC News. The 37-year-old was being investigated after allegedly making up a fake hate crime a little over a year ago when he falsely claimed he was targeted and beaten for being a gay African-American.
The special prosecutor behind the decision is Dan Webb, a former U.S. Attorney. He was appointed in August of last year by a Chicago judge specifically to investigate Smollett’s case and decide what punishment should be given to the former actor.
According to WGN 9, Smollett has been indicted on six counts, among them disorderly conduct. No warrant has been issued.
This is not the first time that Smollett has been indicted. A year ago, he faced similar charges — 16 in total — that accused him of planning the fake hate crime. However, the state’s attorney Kim Foxx, decided to drop all charges against the Empire star just over a month later, giving no explanation during the unannounced court hearing.
The move prompted an intense backlash against Foxx, who was rumored to have links to the Smollett family. Criticism continued to mount after it was discovered that Foxx had not recused herself from the case, despite publicly claiming that she had.
But even before the debacle with Kim Foxx, the case had earned headlines across the country due to its shocking claims. Smollett told police that he had been walking early in the morning of January 29, 2019, when two men wearing masks confronted him with a racist and homophobic language before attacking him and putting a noose around his neck.
Smollett’s story also took on a political shade after he claimed that one of the men had told Smollett that he was “in MAGA country,” a reference to President Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”
However, internet sleuths immediately voiced their doubts about his story, pointing to odd details, inconsistencies, and Smollett’s refusal to hand over his phone or submit to a DNA swab test which could help prove he did not place the noose around his neck.
Soon afterward, it was alleged that Smollett had paid two Nigerian brothers $3,500 to stage the attack. Smollett reportedly hoped that the hate crime would earn him sympathetic press and a potential pay raise on Empire.
However, despite being accused of orchestrating a fake hate crime, Smollett has maintained his innocence. This past November, he even brought a lawsuit against the city of Chicago for malicious prosecution, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.
Smollett is due back in court with the news charges on February 24.