Actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report and disorderly conduct after he claimed he suffered a homophobic and racist assault in Chicago last month.
“Felony criminal charges have been approved by [Cook County State Attorney’s Office] against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report,” Chicago Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi tweeted on Thursday.
“Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.”
Earlier in the day, Guglielmi tweeted that Smollett was “now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony)” and detectives were presenting evidence before a grand jury.
The openly gay actor, who stars in TV drama Empire, told police two masked men attacked him in Chicago in the early hours of January 29, yelling homophobic and racist slurs and striking him.
Smollett claimed the men doused him in a chemical, thought to be bleach, and wrapped a rope around his neck.
Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report. Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest. pic.twitter.com/LvBSYE2kVj
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 21, 2019
Chicago Police initially said they were investigating the incident as a “possible hate crime” but last week two Nigerian men who were initially deemed suspects – and known to Smollett – were released without charge.
Police said at that time “new evidence” had “shifted” the investigation, and police sources told multiple local media outlets last weekend that police now believed Smollett staged the attack with the two men’s help.
Chicago police say the charge of filing a false police report carries a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison, Reuters reported.
Earlier, Smollett strenously denied the claims he staged the attack in an interview on US television and his lawyers said in a later statement the actor was “angered and devastated” and had been “further victimised” by the allegations.
“He has now been further victimised by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” the statement read.
“Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Smollett has played gay character Jamal Lyon on the FOX music industry drama Empire for five seasons, and the actor came out as gay on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show in 2015.