Jussie Smollett has been formally indicted by a grand jury in Chicago on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to authorities about being the victim of a racist and homophobic hate attack in late January, according to NBC News.
Smollett was previously charged last month with felony disorderly conduct for the alleged false report he made to Chicago Police following the supposed incident on Jan. 29. Smollet claimed he was assaulted by two masked men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him and shouted “This is MAGA Country” after assaulting him.
Smollett, 36, and his attorneys have previously denied the allegations against him, and the actor still insists that the attack was real. Smollett claimed his alleged attackers poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told NBC News at the time of his arrest that the investigation into the alleged attack demanded “considerable” police resources. He said that at one point the department had 12 detectives scouring surveillance videos of the area.
Police also have said Smollett, who had told police he was on the phone with his manager at the time of the attack, refused to turn over his phone records to the investigators. Smollett has been accused by Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson of fabricating the attack as a way of negotiating for a better salary on Empire.
“I only hope that the truth about what happened receives the same amount of attention that the hoax did,” Johnson said on Feb. 21. “I’ll continue to pray for this troubled young man who resorted to both drastic and illegal tactics to gain attention.”
Police have said, however, that Smollett was cooperating with the investigation, and later gave investigators a PDF file with partial phone records.