Jussie Smollett's legal case just took another turn for the worse. On Thursday, a Cook County grand jury indicted him on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime.
In January 2019, the 36-year-old Empire star was reported to have been targeted in an alleged racist, homophobic assault in Chicago. But a month later, after questioning two men, police classified Smollett a suspect in a criminal investigation and he was later arrested and charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. Police had accused him of paying the men to orchestrate an assault on him.
On Thursday, the grand jury indicted Smollett, who is out on $100,000 bail, on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
"The fact of an indictment is not unexpected," his lawyer, Marc Geragos, told NBC News. "We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination. What is unexpected however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie."
"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records," he added. "Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption."