The Latest: Smollett attorney: Indictment is ‘vindictive’
CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the indictment of actor Jussie Smollett (all times local):
An attorney for Jussie Smollett says a 16-count indictment against the “Empire” actor is “vindictive” and Smollett “maintains his innocence.”
Mark Geragos says in a statement that he did not expect a Cook County grand jury would charge Smollet with 16 separate counts and the indictment is “prosecutorial overkill.”
He says the 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 information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy.”
Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct for making a false report of an attack on him in Chicago. Police say Smollett staged the attack and recruited two brothers to participate. Local media have reported that the Chicago Police Department is investigating leaks to reporters during the investigation of the reported attack.
The16-county grand jury indictment of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett relates to allegations that he lied to police about a reported attack in January — eight counts for what he told a police officer and eight more for what he told a detective.
In the indictment filed Thursday, the Cook County grand jury makes it clear that Smollett added details to his account of what happened Jan. 29 when he talked to the detective. He gave a basic version to the police officer that included allegations that he was beaten by two masked men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him. The indictment says that when he talked to the detective, Smollett said he could see from the skin around one of the attacker’s eyes through the mask that he was white. He also said that the attackers looped a rope around his neck.
When Smollett was charged with a single count of disorderly conduct on Feb. 20, police noted that Smollett had said the attackers were white. Police say that in fact, the two men who have admitted taking part in the staged attack are both black.
Smollett has denied that he staged the attack.
A grand jury in Chicago has indicted “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men in Chicago who shouted racial and homophobic slurs.
The Cook County grand jury indictment filed Thursday charges him with falsely reporting an offense.
Smollett was charged on Feb. 20 with one count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
Smollett, who is black and gay, told police in late January that he was attacked by two men in downtown Chicago who wrapped a rope around his neck.
Police say Smollett recruited two men to stage the attack because he was upset with his pay on the Fox show. Smollett has denied playing a role in the attack.
Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.