independent: Jussie Smollett has pleaded his innocence after facing 16 charges for allegedly falsely reporting a hate crime assault.
The openly gay actor, best known for his role on the TV show Empire, has been accused of lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack.
According to the indictment filed by a grand jury, all counts are for “false report of offense”, with each being for a different alleged lie he told authorities across two interviews.
Smollett’s lawyer has issued a statement, calling the indictment “redundant and vindictive” and a “desperate attempt to make headlines”
“The fact of an indictment was not unexpected,” the statement reads. “We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination.
“What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie.
“This redundant and vindictive 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 false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records.
“Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption.”
The 36-year-old was charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct last month, with Chicago’s police chief claiming that Smollett had paid two brothers to stage an assault on him.
Smollett told police in late January that he was physically attacked by two men in downtown Chicago while out getting food from a Subway restaurant at 2am.
The actor said the men shouted at him, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an “unknown substance” on him.
After an investigation, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said 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.
Source: Published by independent