A Chicago grand jury has now handed down an additional 16 felony counts against actor Jussie Smollett, all relating to an incident in January in which he’s been accused of fabricating a hate crime attack against himself. Smollett has already been arrested, charged, and released on bail in regards to one felony count of disorderly conduct, but he’s now been indicted on all of the alleged lies he’s been accused of telling police, each of which counts as a separate felony count of disorderly conduct. (Smollett’s attorney dubbed the approach “overkill” tonight.)
This is per The Hollywood Reporter, which notes that Smollett and his attorneys have continued to maintain that the Empire actor’s only involvement in the incident—in which he’s said he was accosted by pro-Trump supporters who attacked him with a rope and poured a mysterious liquid on him—was as a victim. Chicago police arrested him in February on accusations of falsifying the attack with the help of two men associated with the production of the Fox drama.
Smollett could potentially face jail time if he’s convicted, although legal analysts have stated that it’s much more likely he’ll receive probation, with concurrent sentences for whichever of these new charges Cook County prosecutors decide to move forward on. He’s also already been written out of the last two episodes of this year’s season of Empire, although it’s not yet clear if that’s a permanent state of affairs in terms of his long-term employment with the show.