Chicago, Illinois: Empire actor Jussie Smollett was arrested early Thursday, accused of falsely reporting to police that he was the victim of a hate-crime attack in Chicago, investigators said.
Smollett faces felony criminal charges for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. The charges stem from a Jan. 29 report in which Smollett, 36, said attackers poured what he believed was bleach all over his body and put a noose around his neck while making slurs about his race and sexuality.
Chicago police scheduled a media briefing for 9 a.m. CST to discuss the case. Smollett was due in court for a bond hearing 1:30 p.m. CST.
Press Briefing: Jussie Smollet is under arrest and in custody of detectives. At 9am at #ChicagoPolice Headquarters, Supt Eddie Johnson, Commander of Area Central Detectives Edward Wodnicki will brief reporters on the investigation prior to the defendants appearance in court. pic.twitter.com/9PSv8Ojec2- Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 21, 2019
Smollett’s attorneys have denied the actor was complicit in the attack. They released a statement that said he “enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly where there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
His fellow Empire cast members and gay rights advocates had defended the actor. His story began to unravel as detectives were unable to corroborate certain aspects of the report.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told NBC News the investigation into Smollett’s assault took “considerable” police resources, with 12 detectives working the case. At one point, two men were taken into custody as potential persons of interest. The men, who are brothers, were released two days later without charges.