A Chicago grand jury has returned 16 additional felony accounts of disorderly conduct against Empire star Jussie Smollett.
Smollett was originally charged with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report after claiming he was attacked on January 29 by two men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs.
Chicago police accuse Smollett of hiring two brothers and fabricating the attack as a publicity stunt because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on Empire. Smollett — who has been an outspoken activist against racism and homophobia — has maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal.
“I’m pissed off. It’s like, you know, at first, it was a thing of, like, ‘Listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it,’ ’cause it’s the truth,” Smollett told Good Morning America last month. “Then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, how can you doubt that? Like, how do you — how do you not believe that? It’s the truth.’”
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Thursday’s indictments were split into two categories. ABC Chicago reports: “The first set are related to what Smollett told officers about the alleged attack, including that the attackers called him racial and homophobic slurs, struck him with their hands, put a noose around his neck, and poured some sort of chemical substance on him.
“The second set of charges are related to the second interview Smollett had with police about the alleged attack later that day,” the report stated.
Last month, Smollett plead not guilty to the initial disorderly conduct charge.
The new indictments carry a possible sentence that ranges from probation to four years in prison. Smollett is expected to return to court later this month.