In a surprising twist, Jussie Smollett, who claimed to be the victim of a racist and homophobic attack, has been arrested. Police stated that Smollett lied about the assault, and that they had been negotiating with his lawyers for his peaceable surrender and arrest.
Smollet filed a report on January 29th alleging that two men attacked him in the early morning in Chicago. His version of events held that he was beaten, had bleach poured on him and then a noose put around his neck. He then described one of the men as shouting “this is MAGA country” before fleeing.
There have been unconfirmed rumors circulating that Smollet actually paid two men to carry out the attack. These men, the rumors claim, are the ones captured on surveillance video the night of the alleged attack.
Smollet, who is an actor on the hit TV show Empire, is black and gay. His character on Empire is also both black and gay. There were heartfelt outpourings of support for Smollet after the alleged attack. Many of the actor’s colleagues condemned the alleged violence.
The arrest, which comes nearly a month after the police report, is for disorderly conduct. In Illinois, filing a false police report is considered disorderly conduct. This could result in up to three years of jail time. It seems unlikely that Smollett, who has a dedicated legal team, would see such consequences even if he was found guilty.
Smollett’s legal team has stated that people should remember that Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence. At the moment, it’s unclear what motivation he would have had for allegedly lying about being assaulted.
The actor appeared in court Thursday for a bond hearing. It’s unclear, at the time of writing, what kind of timeline for his court case there might be. It’s also unclear what type of penalty the prosecution would be seeking, should Smollett be found guilty of his alleged crime.