Actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested on suspicion of filing a false report about a hate crime he alleged to be the victim of.
The news comes more than three weeks after the Empire actor claimed two men attacked him in a homophobic and racist attack in January.
Police believed Smollett paid two men to carry out the assault, however according to a statement from the actor’s attorneys, he has denied playing any role in his attack.
Chicago police say Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and to further his career.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 21, 2019
CNN report Chicago police confirmed Smollett was taken into custody at around 5.00am (local time) this morning (February 21).
The 36-year-old actor faces a charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming he was attacked by two men in the early morning of January 29 in Chicago.
Smollett reportedly told authorities at the time that the two men – one of whom was wearing a mask – were ‘yelling out racial and homophobic slurs’, tied a rope around his neck and poured an unknown substance on him.
Chicago Police spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, stated Smollett told detectives he was attacked by two men near the entrance of a hotel in Chicago, CNN reports.
Police were also told the two men yelled ‘Empire’ f****t’ and ‘Empire n****r’ while attacking him.
Guglielmi tweeted yesterday (February 20) that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office had approved a felony criminal charge of disorderly conduct against Smollett.
Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report. Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest. pic.twitter.com/LvBSYE2kVj
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 21, 2019
Two men were initially arrested in connection with the assault on Wednesday (February 13), but were released without charge on Friday (February 15) after Chicago police stated there was ‘new evidence’.
Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson – Smollett’s attorneys – issued a statement to CNN today (February 21), stating the Alien: Covenant actor ‘enjoys the presumption of innocence’:
Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked.
Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.
Under Illinois law, filing a false police report is disorderly conduct and punishable by one to three years.
As reported by the BBC, the actor is due to appear in court later on today. His lawyers have said they will ‘mount an aggressive defence.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).