Jussie Smollett is maintaining his innocence following his indictment by a grand jury on Friday. The Empire star’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, told People that the "redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines" and furthermore, accused law enforcement of "robbing" Smollett of his presumed innocence.
Geragos continued: "The fact of an indictment was not unexpected. We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie."
On Friday, he was formally charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for the alleged false reports of a hate crime against himself.
"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records," Geragos said, adding, "Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption."
Smollett’s team has said that it will mount an "aggressive defense."
EMPIRE CAST SPLIT?
Meanwhile, Page Six is reporting that the cast and crew of Empire is split over Smollett’s case, with many strongly supporting him and others furious with him. Overall, Page Six claims the cast is more supportive, and the crew is more critical.