Updated at 19:00
Empire Actor Jussie Smollett was charged on Wednesday with making a false police report when he said he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two men who had launched police raids. racist and anti-gay insults and he had a rope around his neck, the police said.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said prosecutors had accused Smollett of trouble shooting, an offense that could result in a sentence of imprisonment for one to three years and compel the police. actor to pay the cost of the investigation into the beating of January 29th.
The charges were pronounced on the same day that detectives and two brothers found to be suspects testified before a grand jury. Smollett's lawyers met with the prosecutors and the police, but it was not clear what they had discussed or if Smollett had attended the meeting. The lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
The announcement of these accusations occurred after a wave of activity in recent days, which included long interviews of the brothers with the authorities, a search of their homes and their release after the police released them.
The investigators did not say what the brothers had said to the detectives nor what evidence the detectives had collected. However, it became increasingly clear that the story of Smollett had raised serious questions – a fact reported by the police on Friday announcing a "significant change in the trajectory" of the investigation after the release of the brothers.
Smollett, who is black and gay and plays a gay character in the hit TV show Fox, said that he had been attacked as he was going home in a Subway sandwich shop. He added that the masked men had beaten him, had made derogatory comments and shouted "It's a MAGA country" – an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again "- before escaping.
Earlier Wednesday, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued a statement stating that Smollett "continues to be an accomplished professional on set" and that his character is not being removed from the Serie. The series is shot in Chicago and follows a black family as it navigates the highs and lows of the record industry.
The studio's statement followed reports that Smollett's role had been reduced in the middle of the police investigation.
Rumors about Smollett's potential role in the attack began with reports that he would not have cooperated fully with the police and information that detectives in a city bristling with surveillance cameras could not not find video of the attack.
The investigators found and published images of two people they said they wanted to interview. They then recovered the brothers at O 'Hare airport upon their return from Nigeria. The police interrogated the men and searched their apartment.
The two brothers, identified by their lawyer as Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, were detained for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett before being released.
The next day, the police stated that the men had provided information that "changed the trajectory" of the investigation ", and the detectives asked another interview with Smollett.
Police said that one of the men had appeared on Empireand Smollett's lawyers said that one of the men was the actor's personal trainer, whom he had hired to help him physically prepare him for a video clip . The actor released his first album, "Sum of My Music", last year.
Sitting in front of the courthouse where the grand jury met, the two brothers' lawyer said the two men had testified for about two and a half hours.
"There was a point where this story had to be told, and they were monitored and they said we were going to fix that," said Gloria Schmidt.
She said that her clients, who had received money from Smollett, did not care about a compromise or immunity.
"You do not need immunity when you have the truth," she said.
Smollett has been active in issues related to the LBGTQ, and early reports of the assault attracted outrage and support on social media, including Senator Kamala Harris from California and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
The former Cook County Attorney, Andrew Weisberg, said the judges rarely jailed the defendants for making false reports, instead choosing to put them on probation, especially if they were not in prison. had no criminal record.
Smollett has a criminal record relating to giving false information to the police when he is arrested while he was suspected of impaired driving. According to reports, he was also accused of false impersonation and driving without a license. Later he did not advocate for a fee reduction and followed a program of education and treatment of alcoholism.
Another potential problem is the bill that someone could receive after falsely reporting a crime that resulted in a large-scale investigation that lasted for nearly a month and which included collection and collection. review of hundreds of hours of surveillance videos.
The size of the tab does not suggest anyone, but given the time that the police have invested, the cost could be huge.
Weisberg recently portrayed a client accused of misrepresenting after the surveillance video discredited her story that three men had stolen it at the airport O. Hare. For an investigation that lasted only one day, his client had to split $ 8,400 in restitution, Weisberg said. In Smollett's case, "I can imagine that it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars easily."
Also on Wednesday, Lawyer Kim Foxx, of Cook County State, announced that she had objected to the investigation.
Her office explained that Foxx had made the decision "out of caution" because of conversations she had had with one of Smollett's family members right after the report. According to a statement, when the parent expressed concern about the case, Foxx "facilitated the bond" between the family member and the detectives.
Foxx said the case would be handled by his first assistant, Joseph Magats, a 28-year-old senior prosecutor.