A Chicago grand jury has returned a 16-count indictment against Empire actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime, according to multiple Chicago media reports.
Smollett was originally charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office last month. But a true bill handed down on Thursday—and first reported by Chicago blogger CWBChicago—expanded the charges and claim that the actor lied to police who took his initial report as well as detectives who followed up later. The ABC station in Chicago confirmed the indictment with the Cook County State Attorney’s Office.
Smollett’s legal troubles began on Jan. 29 when he told police that he was attacked by two unknown men who struck him, called him racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and placed a noose around his neck.
According to the indictment obtained by CWBChicago, Smollett told a detective in a follow-up interview that he fought back and all three men fell to the ground, and he felt someone pulling on his neck. He also told the officer that one of the attackers was a “white male wearing a black mask with an open area around his eyes that exposed his skin.”
The new charges against Smollett each carry a potential sentence of probation to four years if convicted. Smollett, 36, was written out of the last two episodes of the fifth season of Empire after his arrest.
Smollett is due in court for his arraignment on March 14. Smollett’s attorneys have said they intend to “mount an aggressive defense” on behalf of the actor.