Smollett attorney: Indictment is ‘vindictive’

U.S. & World

An attorney for Jussie Smollett says a 16-count indictment against the “Empire” actor is “vindictive” and Smollett “maintains his innocence.”

Mark Geragos says in a statement that he did not expect a Cook County grand jury would charge Smollet with 16 separate counts and the indictment is “prosecutorial overkill.”

He says the indictment “is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy.”

Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct for making a false report of an attack on him in Chicago. Police say Smollett staged the attack and recruited two brothers to participate. Local media have reported that the Chicago Police Department is investigating leaks to reporters during the investigation of the reported attack.

In the indictment filed Thursday, the Cook County grand jury makes it clear that Smollett added details to his account of what happened Jan. 29 when he talked to the detective. He gave a basic version to the police officer that included allegations that he was beaten by two masked men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him. The indictment says that when he talked to the detective, Smollett said he could see from the skin around one of the attacker’s eyes through the mask that he was white. He also said that the attackers looped a rope around his neck.

When Smollett was charged with a single count of disorderly conduct on Feb. 20, police noted that Smollett had said the attackers were white. Police say that in fact, the two men who have admitted taking part in the staged attack are both black.

Smollett has denied that he staged the attack.

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