Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 counts for false police report

Smollett claimed that he was attacked by two masked men while walking home in the early hours of January 29, telling police that the pair shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him and physically attacked him before fleeing on foot. Smollett's alleged attackers were also fans of Donald Trump who went so far as to inform Smollett that "This is MAGA country!" - a reference to the president's "Make America Great Again" slogan. The two brothers who allegedly participated are black. Each charge carries a sentence of up to four years of probation.

IL attorney Rod Drobinski reviewed the indictment and told Fox News the grand jury hit Smollett with a separate count for every different crime he alleged had been perpetrated against him (eight in all) - to each of the officers he spoke with (two).

He also said that levelling charges in an indictment spares prosecutors the need to submit evidence and witnesses to defence cross-examination in a preliminary hearing, where a judge decides if sufficient cause exists for the case to proceed to trial.

The expanded charges focus on the allegedly false statements he made to two Chicago police officers about the incident.

"I swear to God, I did not do this", Smollett told the cast and crew of "The Empire", according to TMZ.

The actor and singer is now out on $100,000 bond and is due back in court March 14 on a felony charge of disorderly conduct. The actor-singer was hospitalized with cuts and bruises after he said the men poured a bleach-like substance on him and put a noose around his neck. He was originally charged with just one felony count of disorderly conduct on February 20.

Geragos told CNN Smollett was the victim of a "media gangbang" and "media lynching".

Police say Smollett - who gained fame on Fox musical drama "Empire" - staged the attack in a bid to gain publicity and a bigger paycheck.

Smollett told police he had been attacked on a Chicago sidewalk by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs.

Officials said they were released without charge after providing information that "shifted the trajectory of the investigation".

Local media have reported that the Chicago Police Department is investigating leaks to reporters during the investigation of the reported attack.

  • Kyle Peterson