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Jussie Smollett indicted by grand jury on 16 counts lying to police

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Jussie Smollett went from assault victim to suspect within weeks. Here are the events that led up to the “Empire” actor turning himself in.
USA TODAY

Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” star accused by Chicago police of staging a fake hate-crime attack, has been indicted by a Cook County grand jury on 16 counts in connection with the case.

The indictment, filed on Thursday and obtained by USA TODAY, alleges he repeatedly lied to Chicago police about being the victim of a homophobic and racist attack in January.  

Smollett, who is scheduled to be arraigned on March 14, is charged with 16 counts of “false report of offense.”

The Class 4 felonies are described almost identically, except for the names of police officers, in that Smollett is accused of “knowingly” telling police that he was the victim of a “battery, a hate crime and an aggravated battery” and that he knew at the time “there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed.” 

Smollett told Chicago police that he was attacked in the middle of the night on a downtown street by masked men shouting homophobic and racist abuse. In February, after weeks of police investigation, he was charged with one Class 4 felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report about the alleged attack. 

More: Jussie Smollett investigation timeline: How the actor went from assault victim to suspect

Now a county grand jury has deepened his legal woes by adding 15 more counts of disorderly conduct stemming from the alleged false police report. 

Smollett has been out on bail after his initial arrest. He denies he lied to police or anyone else about what he says happened to him on Jan. 29.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx did not immediately issue a statement. Smollett’s defense team of three lawyers did not immediately return a message from USA TODAY.

Smollett was charged with one count on Feb. 20 by police, who alleged that he had paid two brothers who were his friends more than $3,000 to stage the attack as a ploy to raise his profile to get a raise in his salary on “Empire.”

Smollett surrendered to police and was arrested the next day, and was released after posting $100,000 bail following a hearing. 

After his arrest, “Empire” producers announced his character would be removed from the final two episodes of the Fox drama’s current season.

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