Jussie Smollett (Pic: Shutterstock.com)
The Chicago police have confirmed that Jussie Smollett has been criminally charged for allegedly staging an attack against himself.
On Wednesday, Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi tweeted: “Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report.”
He added: “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.”
Two brothers who are acquaintances of the Empire actor, Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, testified before a grand jury that they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack.
Smollett could face up to three years in prison as well as having to pay for the costs of the police investigation into his case.
Earlier, Guglielmi confirmed that, “Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report.” It’s still not clear what the authorities believe would have motivated Smollett to perpetrate a hoax of this nature.
Smollett has denied the claims against him. His lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, said in a statement that they will mount an “aggressive defense” for their client.
“Like any other citizen, Mr Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” they said.
On January 29, Smollett, 36, told police that he’d been attacked in the streets of Chicago at around 2am. He claimed that two men wearing ski masks shouted homophobic and racist slurs at him. He said he’d been beaten in the face and had an unknown substance, possibly bleach, thrown onto him. The men, he claimed, also put a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene. Smollett was briefly hospitalised for minor injuries.