Jussie Smollett charged with filing false report

By: BBC
Jussie Smollett charged with filing false report
Jussie Smollett

CHICAGO police say that US actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report.

The Empire star had said he was subjected to a homophobic and racist physical attack by two men in January.

Doubt was later cast on his account after US media reported that police believed he may have paid two Nigerian brothers to stage the attack.

Mr Smollett's lawyers said they would "conduct a thorough investigation and mount an aggressive defence".

On Wednesday a police spokesman said felony criminal charges had been approved against the actor.

Mr Smollett had been charged for "disorderly conduct / filing a false police report", the spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said in a tweet.

"Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest."

Lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, who are representing the actor, said in a statement: "Like any other citizen, Mr Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked."

They had previously said that Mr Smollett had "been further victimised by claims... that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth."

Earlier on Wednesday, CBS Chicago obtained footage which appeared to show the two brothers buying materials, including ski masks, that had allegedly been worn by the actor's attackers.

The brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, left the US after the alleged attack and were arrested on their return last week. They were later released and are said to be co-operating with the investigation.

One of the brothers is Smollett's personal trainer and both have worked as extras on Empire.

What did Smollett say happened?

The actor, who is openly gay, said he had gone out to buy food late at night when two white men hurled racial and homophobic insults at him, punched him, poured a chemical substance over him and put a rope around his neck.

"This is Maga country," he says they told him, referring to President Donald Trump's Make America Great Again slogan.

The actor said he had been "forever changed" by the incident.

The incident led to an outpouring of support for Smollett from stars including Oscar winner Viola Davis and supermodel Naomi Campbell.