Embattled actor Jussie Smollett (“Empire”), who in January 2019 reported that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago, has again been indicted by a grand jury for felony disorderly conduct for “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,” special prosecutor Dan Webb said in a statement, NBC Chicago reported February 11.
Smollett’s case has had many legal twists and turns since he first made his claims public. In March 2019, Smollett, 37, faced 16 felony counts for making false hate crime reports, only for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to drop them all a week later. The following month, Colorlines reported that the city of Chicago was suing the actor for more than $130,000 for overtime back pay from the initial police investigation, plus legal fees. Later that year, the actor sued Chicago for “humiliation, mental anguish and extreme emotional distress,” Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Webb said that his office “has obtained sufficient factual evidence to determine that it disagrees with how the [Cook County State’s Attorney’s office] resolved the case,” according to NBC Chicago.
But Foxx’s supporters see this judicial about-face as an attack against her, as she is currently seeking re-election.
“What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive,” Foxx’s campaign said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
Smollett is reportedly expected to appear in court on February 24 to address the most recent charges against him.