Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett became the subject of widespread scrutiny early last year after he claimed he was the victim of a hate crime in downtown Chicago that police later said was staged, according to the Associated Press. But though the 16 charges later lodged against Smollett were initially dropped, he’s now facing half a dozen more — and it looks like he’s not getting out of it the easy way this time.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected on Friday a motion from Smollett’s legal team to get six new charges against the actor dropped, and the special prosecutor who brought them removed from the case.
According to the AP, “Smollett, who is black and gay, told police that two masked men attacked him as he was walking home in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2019.” The men allegedly “made racist and homophobic insults, beat [Smollett] and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing,” the AP reported.
At least one of the attackers also allegedly poured some sort of liquid — originally said to be bleach — on Smollett, and one “told him he was in ‘MAGA country,’ a reference to President Donald Trump’s  campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,'” according to the AP.
But though dozens of politicians and Hollywood elites alike offered Smollett their support, the story wasn’t over just yet. After further investigation, Chicago police revealed that Smollett wasn’t the victim at all; rather, they alleged, Smollett had hired the two men in some sort of publicity stunt.
According to the Tribune, Smollett ended up facing a total of 16 charges over the alleged hoax, but they were dropped just a month later. Soon after, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the prosecutor on the case, faced allegations of giving Smollett “special treatment” because of his connections to a former aide to Michelle Obama, according to Politico.
All the suspicion surrounding the charges — and their subsequent dismissal — prompted a new investigation by prosecutor Dan Webb, who successfully convinced a grand jury last month to bring six new charges against Smollett, the Tribune reported.
“Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb said at the time, according to the Tribune.
Still, Smollett maintains that wasn’t the case. As the Tribune reports:
In an emergency motion to the Illinois Supreme Court, Smollett’s attorneys argued [last week] that Cook County Judge Michael Toomin overstepped his authority and misinterpreted the law when he ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor [Webb] in Smollett’s case last year.
Smollett’s team argued that the statute could only have been invoked if Foxx had formally recused herself from the case, which she never did, according to the Tribune. Under such circumstances, Smollett’s lawyers claimed that only the actor could have challenged the validity of the initial prosecution and that, since he never did, the new charges should be thrown out and Webb removed from the case.
The Illinois Supreme Court, however, disagreed, rejecting Smollett’s motion without even giving an explanation, according to Fox News.
Perhaps Smollett is finally about to be held accountable for his actions. If so, it’s about time.