Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Chicago Files Civil Complaint Against 'Empire' Actor Jussie Smollett

Chicago Files Civil Complaint Against 'Empire' Actor Jussie Smollett

The city will also seek attorneys' fees and litigation costs, as well as a civil penalty of $1,000 for each of Smollett's alleged lies.

Smollett's attorneys framed the sudden about-face as vindication for the actor, though Joseph Magats, Foxx's top deputy, said the dropped charges "should not be viewed as some kind of admission there was something wrong with the case, or something wrong with the investigation that the Chicago police did".

The city of Chicago sued Jussie Smollett for more than $130,000 on Thursday to recover the cost of police overtime spent looking into the alleged hate crime against him.

A representative for Smollett did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The "Empire" actor has been accused of orchestrating the January 29 assault, during which he claims two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs while beating him, pouring an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapping a rope around his neck.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel then had the city's Law Department send Smollett a letter titled "Re: Repayment of Investigation Costs for False Police Report", requiring "immediate payment of the $130,106.15 expended on overtime hours in the investigation of this matter".

He was charged in February with staging the incident and filing a false police report. The letter went on to say that if the amount was not paid within seven days, the city might prosecute Smollett "for making a false statement" or "pursue any other legal remedy available at law". Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who will be Chicago's first black female mayor when she's sworn in on May 20, has indicated only that the public deserves a better explanation for why the criminal charges against Smollett were dropped.

Even in Circuit Court, with its lower standard of proof than in criminal trials, the city won't be able to prove that Smollett staged the attack, Geragos wrote.

Smollett, who has maintained his innocence, previously pleaded not guilty to all 16 counts against him. Both center on the same question: Did Smollett stage a physical assault on himself, claiming his attackers shouted racial and homophobic slurs?

At a news conference last Friday, Mayor Emanuel deflected questions about the case, saying "that's in the courts, it's not my focus". Johnson told the media at the time that the Osundairo brothers were cooperating with investigators, and that the investigation was pivoting from a hate crime probe into an inquiry into false reporting.

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