Smollet indicted on 16 felony counts

Actor and singer Jussie Smollett said he was attacked in Chicago by two masked men who used derogatory language and put a rope around his neck. He has now been accused of falsely reporting a hate crime

Jussie Smollett Indicted on 16 Felony Counts

Major development in the Chicago police department's investigation into Jussie Smollett: new reports indicate that a Cook County grand jury has returned a 16-count indictment against the actor.

In this May 20, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles.

"If you only charge him with one or two counts and they find him not guilty of them, you're done", said David Erickson, who now teaches at Chicago Kent College of Law. Then there was his assertion, police said, that he could see one of the men was white because he could see the skin around his eyes. In addition, he has also been suspended from Empire. Smollett has insisted he is innocent.

Social media has had a mixed response to the news with some people continuing to show their support to Jussie Smollett.

Mr Smollett is accused of paying two brothers to stage the attack.

As for the hate mail Jussie received prior to the attack, the police believe he sent them to himself. The actor was later arrested, but released on $100,000 bail.

Neither Smollett's attorney nor his spokeswoman could immediately be reached for comment on the latest charges.

What did he say happened?

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The actor, who is black and gay, claimed two men attacked him and tied a noose around his neck on January 29.

How has the case unfolded?

Police pieced together much of their evidence by reviewing footage from about 55 police and private surveillance cameras showing the brothers' movements before and after the attack. There were also no witnesses. The decision was made to 'avoid further disruption on set, ' producers said.

They identified the men as Abel and Ola Osundairo, both of whom had worked on Empire. On their return they were held for nearly 48 hours. The men were released without being charged.

Police have said they are no longer considered suspects.

Police said Smollett staged the attack and recruited two brothers to participate. According to the Huffington Post, he was being paid $65,000 per episode for his starring role. "Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?"

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the actor initially faked a letter using racist and homophobic language.

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