(Photo Credits: Sister Circle Live [CC BY 3.0])

Jussie Smollett’s troubles keep piling up. 

Last month, Smollett pleaded not guilty to his charge of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report with the Chicago police. 

Last Friday—March 8, 2019—a Cook County grand jury indicted the embattled American singer and actor on 16 felony counts for allegedly staging a fake racist and homophobic hate crime attack on himself. According to Variety, “Eight of the charges involve false statements given to Officer Muhammed Baig, while the other eight pertain to a more detailed account given to Det. Kim Murray.” 

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, one of the actor’s attorneys Mark Geragos, said Smollett “maintains his innocence” and called the indictment “prosecutorial overkill.” Geragos said, “This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines.” 

Smollett’s arraignment is scheduled on Thursday—March 14, 2019—where he is expected to enter his plea.

The attack in question reportedly took place on January 29, 2019 wherein Smollett, an openly gay black man, was allegedly attacked by 2 men described as “white and wearing ski masks.” The men purportedly hurled racial and homophobic slurs before beating him up, putting a rope around his neck, pouring bleach on him, and shouting, “This is MAGA country” as they fled the scene.

A lot has happened since then. Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon has been written off the final two episodes of the upcoming season of the TV show Empire. In other news, multiple Northwestern Memorial Hospital employees have been fired for accessing Jussie Smollett’s medical records without proper authorization but the fired employees claimed they didn’t do it.

Meanwhile, Queen Latifah said in an interview that while she doesn’t “know what to make” of the scandal, that she is standing by Smollett “until someone can provide ‘definitive proof’ the incident was a hoax.” She explained, “The guy I’ve seen has always been someone who cares about people, who cares about others, and who’s very kind and who’s always been cool and sweet. And that’s just the guy I know.”

Terrence Howard, who played Jussie Smollett’s father on Empire, has posted a message on Instagram for Smollett saying, “All your lil homies got you… We love the hell outta you ♥.”

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