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Cook County special prosecutor Dan K. Webb announced Tuesday, February 11 that Smollett has been indicted on six counts of disorderly conduct for “making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime,” according to a press release from the special prosecutor’s office obtained by Oxygen.com.
This is, of course, referencing the now-infamous brutal assault Smollett claimed to be a victim of on Jan. 29, 2019. He had claimed that two masked assailants lambasted him with racial and homophobic slurs before pouring an unknown liquid over him and wrapping a noose around his neck. Just weeks after he filed the police report, law enforcement claimed that Smollett had paid brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo to attack him in an effort to help his career.
The state attorney’s office charged Smollett in February 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct but those charges were later dropped abruptly without public clarification, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Tina Glandian, one of the attorneys representing the actor, questioned the timing of the newest indictment in a statement provided to Deadline.
“The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice,” she said.
She did not immediately respond to Oxygen.com's request for comment.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her supporters responded Tuesday to theories that the new indictment, filed months after her office dropped charges against the actor, may coincide with an upcoming election.
“We have an election that's coming up in the next five weeks," Foxx said, according to NBC5 Chicago. "I certainly would hope that the decision made in this case was based on the facts, the evidence, and the law."
However, she said she is supporting the indictment and will not challenge Webb’s decision.
“We will see how it plays out,” she said. “The special prosecutor is obviously going to look at the facts, the evidence and the law and made a decision to prosecute.”
Her campaign was a bit harsher though. They issued a statement Tuesday calling the timing of the new charges “James Comey-like timing," adding that they “can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive,” the New York Times reports.
Foxx's office did not immediately respond to Oxygen.com's request for comment.
Foxx’s rival Donna More in the upcoming Cook County State's Attorney election race has suggested that Foxx’s previous decision to drop charges may have been incorrect.
"This can no longer be considered just an error in judgment or a disappointing lack of transparency,” she said. “There may be significant wrongdoing on the part of the State's Attorney."
After Smollett’s charges were dropped last year, he reportedly agreed to community service and his record was wiped clean, according to Fox32 in Chicago.
That decision was not only criticized, but it fueled conspiracy theories, BuzzFeed reported. It also sparked criticism of Foxx.
Prosecutors from Webb's office began investigating the incident back in August. Webb said the new charges are “in the interest of justice.”
Smollett is due to be arraigned Feb. 24.
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