Actor Jussie Smollett was charged on Tuesday for a second time for lying to police about a racist and anti-gay attack he allegedly staged on himself. The charge came from a special prosecutor who was appointed after Cook County prosecutors dropped the same charges last March.
When his claims first emerged, he drew a lot of support from fans and celebrities and gave an emotional television interview about the attack.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb said in a statementthat Smollett faces six felony counts of disorderly conduct, charges that stem from four separate false reports that he gave to police in which he contended he was a victim of a hate crime “knowing that he was not the victim of a crime.”
The statement raised questions about county prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges and made it clear that those prosecutors had not adequately explained to special prosecutors why they did so. Dan Webb also stressed that he had reached no conclusions about whether anyone involved in the case had engaged in any wrongdoing.
Smollett was originally charged with disorderly conduct in February 2019 for allegedly staging the attack and lying about it to investigators. The allegations were dropped the following month with little explanation, angering police officials and the then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Smollett’s legal team questioned Webb’s decision to file new charges. The indictment “raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges” they said, citing the use of the same detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack to conduct the latest probe, despite Smollett’s pending civil claims against the city and police officers for malicious prosecution.
Smollett, 37, has not had any notable film or television roles announced since his departure from the TV series was made public in April 2019. Producers have the option to bring him back during the sixth and final season but have said they have no plans to do so.
He is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on Feb. 24.