Jussie Smollett Indicted By Grand Jury

Jussie Smollett
Photo credit Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Former "Empire" co-star Jussie Smollett, who allegedly faked a hate-crime attack on himself last year before charges were controversially dropped, has been indicted by a grand jury, the special prosecutor who re-examined the case said Tuesday.

The six-count indictment accuses Smollett with making four separate false charges to Chicago Police while claiming he was the victim of a hate crime but "knowing he was not the victim of a hate crime."

Special Counsel Dan Webb was appointed to look into the Cook County State's Attorney's handling of the original charges against Smollett. Webb's options included filing fresh charges against the actor and musician.

It was just over a year ago when Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him and placed a noose around his neck. The attack allegedly occurred overnight in subzero temperatures in the Streeterville neighborhood. 

Chicago police investigated the high-profile incident and determined it was a hoax. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, organized the fake attack as a way to draw attention and sympathy, they said.

Smollett had been charged with disorderly conduct, but those charges were dropped by State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx in a decision that dogs her as she runs for re-election. Critics say Smollett received special treatment, and the special prosecutor also questions the actions of Foxx's office, given the initial evidence against Smollett.

"The CCSAO decision-makers overseeing the Smollett resolution decision have not identified any new evidence they learned of between the time of indictment and dismissal of the indictment that changed their view that the evidence against Mr. Smollett was strong," a news release from the special counsel said.

The second part of his job, Webb noted, was to look into whether anybody in the state's attorney's office engaged in wrongdoing. Webb says he's reached no conclusions on that yet.

The Kim Foxx re-election campaign questioned the timing of the indictment, so close to the primary in March.

"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," the campaign said in a prepared statement.

The state's attorney's did not comment beyond releasing a brief statement: "As the Cook County State's Attorney's Office does in all cases, the Special Prosecutor reviewed the facts, evidence, and the law, and determined charges were appropriate in this matter. We are unable to comment further as the matter is pending."

Smollett was expected to appear in court Feb. 24.