‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 felony counts by grand jury

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Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail following release Chicago Feb 21 2019 Kamil Krzaczynski AP file_1552085532665.jpg.jpg

CHICAGO (NBC NEWS) – “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a grand jury in Chicago on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime, NBC News confirmed Friday.

Smollett was charged last month with felony disorderly conduct for the alleged false report he made with Chicago police on Jan. 29, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. In it he claimed he was assaulted by two masked men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs.

Smollett was charged by a grand jury of 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report, according to a criminal complaint.

Smollett and his attorneys have previously denied the allegations against him.

In a statement released after Smollett was charged, his attorneys said he “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.”

The actor, 36, who is black and gay, also said his attackers poured what he believed was bleach over him and put a noose around his neck. Authorities then began to investigate the case a potential hate crime.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told NBC News at the time of his arrest in late February that the investigation into the alleged attack demanded “considerable” police resources. He said that at one point the department had 12 detectives scouring surveillance videos.

Some social media users began to cast doubt on Smollett’s claims after police said they were not able to find footage of the alleged attack after going through a voluminous amount of recordings from the many surveillance cameras in the area.

Police also had said Smollett refused to turn over his phone and phone records for the investigation. The actor had told police he was on the phone with his manager at the time of the attack.

Police have said, however, that Smollett was cooperating with the investigation, and later gave investigators a PDF file with partial phone records.

Read more here: https://nbcnews.to/2H5WS3H

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