Disgraced hate crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett was indicted on Tuesday, according to Breitbart, nearly a year after Chicago officials let him off the hook for faking an assault.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb charged the former Empire actor with disorderly conduct in connection with a fabricated attack in the Windy City in January 2019. The hoax prompted outrage nationwide, especially after Chicago officials mysteriously dropped all charges and expunged his record last year.
“A Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Jussie 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,” Webb’s office said in a statement Tuesday, according to NBC News.
Six charges for Smollett
Smollett claimed in January of last year that he was attacked in the early morning hours by two Trump supporters shouting racist and anti-gay slurs. According to Fox News, Smollett claimed that the men tied a noose around his neck and told him he was in “MAGA country.”
Many were immediately incredulous, given that Chicago is one of the biggest liberal metropolises in the nation, but police investigated the incident as a hate crime. Evidence later turned up that Smollett made up the story and paid two Nigerian actors to stage a publicity stunt, Breitbart reported.
The actor was charged in February with disorderly conduct, but the charges were dropped in March amid suspicion that Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx put her thumb on the scale. Webb, who was appointed in August to take a second look at the case, said that Foxx’s office had not produced evidence explaining the decision to dismiss charges, according to NBC.
“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,” his office’s statement read.
Hate crime hoax
Foxx said she recused herself from the case, but it later became apparent that she was still involved when she clarified that she did not “formally” recuse herself. Many suspected that Smollett was getting a sweetheart deal when it was reported that Foxx had contact with a member of Smollett’s family and Tina Chen, a former aide to former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The hoax, and Smollett’s seeming success in eluding punishment, angered Chicago police and former mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as many Trump supporters who saw the media’s credulity in the early stages of the hoax as an example of bias against them and conservatives in general. Many have also said that the media downplays the violence that vocal Trump supporters sometimes face for supporting the president.
Smollett was also slammed for making light of genuine racism and wasting the police’s time. Webb cited the “extensive nature of Mr. Smollett’s false police reports, and the resources expended by the Chicago Police Department to investigate these false reports,” among other factors, in his decision to indict the actor.
The indictment is a reversal of fortune for Smollett, who has consistently denied making up the story, opting to play the victim. He is fighting a civil lawsuit from Chicago officials for $130,000 wasted investigating his phony publicity stunt, as NBC notes.
Smollett is due in court on Feb. 24.