Jussie Smollett ‘maintains his innocence’ after indictment

US actor Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 counts for assault claim

US actor Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 counts for assault claim

Chicago - Mark Geragos, an attorney for Jussie Smollett, said a 16-count indictment against the "Empire" actor is "vindictive" and that Smollett "maintains his innocence".

CWBChicago reports that the grand jury's 16-count true bill stated that Smollett lied to two police officers about the incident.

On Friday, the State of IL hit suspended Empire star Smollett with 16 class 4 felony counts of disorderly conduct pertaining to allegations he filed a false police report after conspiring to orchestrate a hate crime hoax against himself for publicity purposes. The grand jury returned the disorderly conduct indictment on Thursday, per the indictment obtained by ET on Friday.

The second set of charges are related to the second interview Smollett had with police about the alleged attack later that day.

A conviction on any count could lead to a sentence ranging from probation to up to three years in prison.

Mr Smollett, who was pictured outside the courthouse after posting bail, denies the charge of felony disorderly conduct.

Smollett's initial claim of being attacked ended up with police saying he filed a false report and staged a hoax.

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. Donald Trump, Jr. said, "It appears that Jussie Smollett tried to manufacture a hate crime to make Trump supporters look bad, and most of the media not only uncritically accepted his lies as facts for weeks, but attacked those who questioned the validity of his false story". He's now accused of allegedly orchestrating the attack with the Osundairo brothers, who he knew.

Fox network and the studio that produces Empire had no immediate comment on the latest indictment. After slamming Smollett in February, he said, "Let me tell, you, Robin, there's a lot more evidence that hasn't been presented yet, and does not support the version he gave".

He's likely to arrange a plea deal, ABC7 reported. Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed two men hurled slurs and looped a rope around his neck on January 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago.

On Feb. 22, the television show "Empire" said Smollett would be written out of the last two episodes of the season, which still had yet to be filmed.

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