Jussie Smollett faces criminal charges after false police report


photo via Wikimedia Commons under creative commons license

Actor Jussie Smollett, if convicted of filing a false police report, could face up to 3 years in prison.

Lindsey Baum, News editor

On Jan. 29, a frigid Tuesday, the city of Chicago and America as a whole were shocked. News of a devastating hate crime, fraught with racial and homophobic slurs, against one of the city’s brightest stars spread.

Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of the popular Fox drama Empire, reported that he had been attacked on the street outside his apartment. According to his recollection, two men wearing ski masks assaulted him viciously, beating him, pouring bleach on him, and tying a noose around his neck while yelling “This is MAGA Country.”

As this horrific story spread, many prominent figures in America expressed their support for Smollett. Entertainment titans such as Viola Davis and Shonda Rhimes, and political powerhouses including California Senator Kamala Harris and New Jersey senator Cory Booker publicly issued messages of sympathy, solidarity, and outrage for Smollett.

However, as Chicago PD began investigating the attack, doubts concerning the sincerity of Smollett’s report became more prevalent. Public sentiment towards Smollett shifted as information regarding his lack of cooperation in the investigation surfaced.

The case surrounding Smollett officially shifted on Feb. 16 when the Chicago Police Force informed the press that they had discovered evidence indicating Smollett had paid two men $3,500 to stage the attack.

Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo allegedly received a check from Smollett, along with cash for supplies, and were given instructions on when and how to stage the attack. While they were both originally arrested on suspicion of battery, it is believed information revealed in their interrogations helped to break open the case.

Smollett voluntarily surrendered himself to the Chicago Police Department on Feb. 21, being named a suspect in a criminal investigation for filing a fake police report, a class 4 felony.

Smollett was released from custody after a friend paid his $10,000 bond, but he still has to undergo a full investigation. Additionally, he is under investigation by the FBI for sending a false, threatening letter to himself. If convicted, Smollett could face up to 3 years in prison.