Jussie Smollett has been arrested and faces criminal charges for allegedly filing a false police report and for disorderly conduct. Chicago police tweeted Thursday morning that the “Empire” actor was under arrest and in custody of detectives.
Smollett claimed that he had been attacked by two men on Jan. 29 — he said they beat him, tied a rope around his neck, and doused him with bleach. He also claimed that they shouted racist and homophobic slurs during the assault. However, police now believe that Smollett paid two acquaintances, brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, to help him orchestrate the attack. The men have reportedly been cooperating with investigators.
In a Feb. 14 interview on “Good Morning America,” Smollett hit back at skeptics. “If I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot more,” Smollett said during the TV interview.
A press briefing by Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Cmdr. Edward Wodnicki will take place on Thursday morning and a bail hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Smollett’s legal issues are mounting. The FBI is also looking into whether the actor sent a threatening letter to the “Empire” studio in Chicago in the days before the attack. Fox, the network that airs “Empire,” has had strong support from series producer 20th Century Fox TV and Fox, but sources tell Variety that the show’s producers are considering suspending the actor now that he has been formally charged with a crime.
At the same time, a high-level source maintains that the plan is for Smollett to finish his work on the show’s current season, which is still in production in Chicago. Fox hastily shuffled the “Empire” production schedule this week to give Smollett a few days off to sort out his mounting legal problems.
If Smollett is found to have filed a false police report, that is a Class 4 felony in Illinois. He could face between one to three years in prison and may also be ordered to compensate the Chicago Police Department for the cost of its investigation.
Henry Chu and Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.