Actor Jussie Smollett is facing new charges over allegedly staging his own hate crime attack.
The former Empire actor has been indicted on six new charges of disorderly conduct for fabricating the racist and homophobic attack that he alleged took place in January 2019.
Though Smollett was originally charged with disorderly conduct nearly a year ago in connection with the incident, the charges were quietly and inexplicably dropped. However, special prosecutor Dan K. Webb is arguing that there are grounds to further prosecute, noting that Smollett repeatedly reported, “a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred.”
Smollett’s attorneys, however, are questioning the “integrity of the investigation.” They released a statement, saying,
“After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett. Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.”
Smollett initially made waves when he first reported the attack to police in January 2019. Smollett alleged that two men shouted homophobic slurs at him as he left a Subway restaurant in Chicago. He reported that they then beat him, poured a bleach-like liquid on him, and tied a noose around his neck.
While the attack was initially met with a public outcry in support of Smollett, horror shifted to outrage as inconsistencies emerged and police concluded that Smollett had, in fact, paid two men to conduct the attack so Smollett could garner sympathy and further his acting career.
It’s worth noting that, while this staged hate crime has preoccupied media headlines for more than a year, very real hate crimes continue to rise. According to an FBI report, hate-crime violence has hit a 16-year high nationwide.
New York City, though boasting a record low overall crime rate, reported a 26% increase in anti-Semitic attacks in 2019. And California leads the pack with the highest number of bias-motivated attacks. Hate crimes in Los Angeles alone increased 10.3% from the year before.
For his part, Smollett continues to deny any wrongdoing. When charges against him were initially dropped, Smollett spoke out against his naysayers, saying,
“I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of.”
Smollett is due in court on February 24, 2020