Jussie Smollett (Pic: Shutterstock.com)
Despite being let off the hook last year, American actor Jussie Smollett has again been charged for his alleged hate crime hoax that shocked the world.
On Tuesday, Cook County special prosecutor Dan K. Webb announced that he’d completed his investigation into the matter and had made the decision to further prosecute Smollett.
He said that a grand jury would charge 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.”
In January 2019, the openly gay Smollett claimed that he’d been attacked in downtown Chicago by two men in what appeared to be a racist and homophobic assault.
Following police investigations, however, he was accused of paying two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack to boost his visibility and increase his salary on the hit show Empire. The actor has denied the claims against him.
The fallout from the accusations saw the star being dropped from his role in the series and becoming something of a pariah, far removed from his previous status as a lauded performer and LGBTQ activist and role model.
In March 2019, prosecutors unexpectedly dropped all charges against Smollett in light of his community service and his agreeing to forfeit his $10,000 bail.
Following heavy criticism of Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the case, Webb was appointed by a judge to head an independent investigation into the matter, leading to the new charges.
Webb said in a statement that the investigation found that “Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack” and “made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions.”
He added that “reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Mr. Smollett” and that is “in the interest of justice” to do so.
Smollett is scheduled to appear in court on 24 February.