Jussie Smollett is facing new criminal charges over alleged homophobic hate crime hoax

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Courthouse after his court appearance on March 26, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

Gay former Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted again on six felony charges after allegedly staging a homophobic and racist attack against himself.

Smollett claimed he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack in January, 2019, in which two unidentified men attacked him, used homophobic and racist slurs and looped a noose around his neck.

Chicago police officers later accused him of faking the attack for publicity, and he was indicted in March on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing false police reports.

However, later the same month, all charges against the gay actor were dropped for reasons that remain unclear.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb was appointed in August to investigate the decision in order to “restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system”.

Now a grand jury in Illinois has returned six of the indictments over four separate police reports to the Chicago Police Department, Webb announced on Tuesday, February 11.

Jussie Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout.

According to NBC Chicago, a statement from the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) read: “The grand jury’s investigation revealed that Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred.

“Therefore, Mr Webb has determined that reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Mr Smollett… Mr Webb has also concluded that further prosecution of Jussie Smollett is ‘in the interest of justice’.

“Several factors went into this determination, including the extensive nature of Mr Smollett’s false police reports, and the resources expended by the Chicago Police Department to investigate these false reports.”

Separately, the city of Chicago is still pursuing a civil lawsuit against Smollett, seeking to reclaim $130,000 spent investigating his claims.

It was announced last month that the actor would not be returning to Empire for the show’s final ever episode.