Actor Jussie Smollett indicted by grand jury on 16 felony counts


(JTA) — Jussie Smollett was indicted by a grand jury in Chicago on 16 felony counts related to making a false police report in which the “Empire” actor said he was the victim of a hate attack last month.

The indictment by the Cook County grand jury against Smollett, who is black, Jewish and gay, was opened Friday. It comes about two weeks after prosecutors announced one felony count against Smollett for making a false police report.

The 16 counts include what Smollett told a responding police officer and later told investigators.

Police believe Smollett paid two Nigerian brothers to stage the Jan. 29 attack in downtown Chicago. The brothers, one who appears on “Empire,” testified before the grand jury. Smollett has denied the allegations.

Smollett told police that two men “gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him” before attacking, pouring an “unknown chemical substance” on him and wrapping a rope around his neck. The assailants said “This is MAGA country” as they fled, he also told police.

Smollett’s character on “Empire,” Jamal Lyon, reportedly has been written out of the final two episodes of the show’s fifth season now airing.

Smollett was released on $100,000 bail from jail the day after he was charged on Feb. 20. He is scheduled to appear in court next week.

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