Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett is facing six new charges of lying to the police about a racist and homophobic attack he allegedly staged himself in January 2019.
As TV Fanatic previously reported, the 37-year-old alleged that he was attacked by two masked men who put a noose around his neck and poured a chemical substance over him.
The city of Chicago went on to accuse him of falsifying a police report and planning the attack. He was initially hit with 16 felony charges in February 2019, but they were dropped in March of that year.
Later in 2019, it was revealed that a judge brought a special prosecutor in to assess whether the decision to drop all charges was the right one.
While the scandal raged on, Smollett was initially written out of the final two episodes of Empire Season 5 — a series in which the actor won a lot of praise for his portrayal of Jamal Lyon.
There were conflicting reports on whether he would return for Empire Season 6, but FOX later decided to make the sixth season the show’s last.
And recent reports have suggested that he will not be a part of the last-ever episodes of the series.
The new felony charges leveled against the embattled actor are six new counts of disorderly conduct.
Dan Webb, the special prosecutor on the case, said that these charges stem from four separate and allegedly false police reports in which Smollett claimed to be the victim of a hate crime, while “knowing he was not the victim of a crime,” according to Webb.
Jussie’s attorney responded to Webb’s decision saying it “raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges.”
Throughout the scandal, Smollett has maintained his innocence.
For now, Smollett is set to appear in court on February 24.
It’s a wild development for a scandal that dominated the headlines during the first quarter of 2019. If he is found guilty, there’s no telling what type of sentence he could be looking at.
As always, we’ll keep you up to speed on all the latest developments.
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Empire (minus Jussie Smollett) returns for its final batch of episodes in March.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.