Jussie Smollett has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report about a racist attack.
The Empire star told police and the media he had been beaten up by two masked white men, who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him outside his apartment building.
Smollett also claimed his attackers tied a noose around his neck and poured a bleach-like liquid on him.
Police officials started to suspect there was more to the story after after questioning “potential suspects” Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo last week. They reportedly accused Smollett of hiring them to stage the assault.
On Wednesday afternoon, the actor and singer was “officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation” for “filing a false police report,” and hours later he was charged with the felony by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tells the Chicago Tribune the Osundairo brothers were no longer suspects and that, after talking with them, detectives were now investigating whether Smollett paid them to stage the attack.
Smollett’s lawyers are firing back, releasing a statement that reads: “Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth.”