Smollett indicted on 16 counts in hoax attack case

Following their deliberations, the grand jury has reportedly returned with 16 felony counts against the actor for the same charge.

ABC News reports there are "two separate sets of charges".

Each count is a Class 4 felony, which carries a possible prison sentence of one to three years.

Smollett has been charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct in connection with falsely filing a police report.

Smollett surrendered to police on February 21 and has remained free on $100,000 bond.

Smollett, 36, who plays gay performer Jamal Lyon on the popular Fox drama, originally reported that he was attacked in Chicago by two masked assailants, who used racist and homophobic slurs.

They claim he hired two brothers, who are black, to help stage a "phony attack" on him last month, but that his plan was thwarted because the surveillance camera was not faced in the right direction to capture the beating.

"I'm also concerned about what this means moving forward for hate crimes", said Johnson. His attackers, the actor said, hurled homophobic and racist slurs as the hit him, poured an what appeared to be bleach on him, and put a thin noose around his neck.

Smollett is set to be arraigned March 14, CBS 2 reports.

Jussie Smollett is shown in the hospital with the scratches police say he gave himself after the "attack", left. The studio that produces the series declined to comment on Smollett's indictment.

Reports of an assault on Smollett drew outrage and support for him on social media from some politicians and celebrities.

Smollett received eight counts for what he told a police officer and eight more for what he told a detective.

The release of the indictment came after the Chicago Police Department said it started an internal investigation into how information about the alleged hate crime against Smollett was anonymously leaked to reporters. 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.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time ... there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment says.

Since Smollett's arrest, the producers of "Empire" announced that the actor's character would be removed from the season's final two episodes.

  • Marlene Weaver