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Jussie Smollett Indicted on 16 Felony Counts of Filing False Police Report

Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted on 16 felony counts of filing a false police report, approved by a Cook County grand jury on Thursday, according to multiple Chicago news stations. Smollett was arrested last month on one count of the same crime. The new charges cover the actor’s alleged false report of a violent hate crime in January and alleged false statements to police in a secondary interview. Smollett claimed and has publicly maintained that he was attacked by two masked men yelling racial and homophobic slurs outside his Chicago apartment, while police and prosecutors have claimed the attack was a hoax.

Smollett pleaded not guilty to the first change and was released from police custody on $100,000 bond. In the days following his arrest, Empire reportedly wrote Smollett’s character out of the show’s final two episodes of season five to “avoid further disruption on set.” The actor and singer stands accused of staging the attack with the help of two brothers who also worked on the Fox series. Prosecutors have claimed that Smollett planned the scene, paid the brothers for the rope, masks, bleach, and other materials used during the altercation, and wrote a $3,500 check as an advance payment. He has denied lying about the attack and his attorneys have stated they plan to “mount an aggressive defense.”