Jussie Smollett has officially been charged with federal disorderly conduct for filing a false police report for his alleged attack on January 29th. Chicago police spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, tweeted on Wednesday afternoon (February 20th) that the Empire star is being charged with a Class 4 felony, and that detectives presented evidence before a Cook County grand jury.
Guglielmi tweeted, “Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.”
In response to the new development, Smollett’s lawyers said in a statement, “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. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
If Smollett is charged, he can face one to three years in prison.
FOX SAYS JUSSIE SMOLLETT'S ROLE ON 'EMPIRE' IS SAFE AS NEW EVIDENCE IS REPORTED
Fox is denying reports that Jussie Smollett’s role on Empire is being cut amid a reported investigation into whether he staged his own attack. Smollett and his attorneys, meanwhile, have agreed to sit down with police in a bid to stave off a grand jury, TMZ reports.
Meanwhile, late in the day Wednesday, CBS2 posted video that allegedly shows Ola and Abel Osundairo buying ski masks, gloves, red hats and other gear reportedly used in the staged attack. Police sources tell CBS that the pair bought the items at Smollett’s direction.
SUPPORT FOR SMOLLETT
In a statement, the network says, “Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show.”
Since the January 29th attack that landed him in the hospital, the narrative around Smollett’s role in it has evolved. Smollett has maintained that he was assaulted by two men shouting “homophobic” and “racist slurs,” while police sources have repeatedly told news organizations that they are looking into whether he colluded with two Ola and Abel (who were arrested and later released) in the attack.
His siblings have also stood by him.
Smollett's brother, Jocqui, posted an Instagram photo that read, “This is the media, an irresponsible media. It will make the criminal look like he's the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal. If you aren't careful, the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
His sister Jurnee Smollett-Bell then reposted the image.
Later, Jocqui posted another image that read, “I have a feeling even if we had video of Jussie Smollett being attacked… y'all would still discredit him. Because it's easier to believe what aligns with your contempt for survivors of hate crimes, sexual abuse, etc who happen to be LGBTQ+, disabled or women.”