The Chicago Police Department has opened an investigation into news media leaks in the Jussie Smollett hoax case.
Several local media outlets, including ABC7 and CBS Chicago, reported on Feb. 14 that police believed the “Empire” actor had faked the Jan. 29 hate attack, citing law enforcement sources. At the time, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi denied the reports, calling ABC7’s sources “uninformed and inaccurate.”
The reports turned out to be correct, as Smollett was subsequently arrested and charged with filing a false police report. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson held a press conference on Feb. 21 calling Smollett’s conduct “despicable.” The department is now seeking to determine who released information without official approval.
“An internal investigation has been opened,” Sgt. Rocco Alioto said in a statement. “I would like to point out that a lot of the information out there was inaccurate and there were numerous agencies involved in this investigation. As a standard procedure when there are allegations of information being leaked, an internal investigation has been opened and we are also looking at our vulnerabilities.”
Smollett told police that he was assaulted while out walking at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. He alleged that two assailants shouted homophobic and racist slurs at him, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. Prosecutors claim that Smollett hired his personal trainer, Abel Osundairo, and brother Ola Osundairo, to stage the assault.
Smollett has denied the allegation and has been suspended from the show.