Another day, another Jussie Smollett story, as the former Empire actor’s saga just won’t go away. This time, a federal judge is refusing to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the City of Chicago, which wants Smollett to pay for investigative costs from his alleged January attack, which they say he made up.
As Out has reported many, many times, Smollett filed a police report earlier this year claiming that he’d been assaulted on the street by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him, before pouring bleach on him. He also said the assailants invoked President Donald Trump’s dog whistle campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
The Chicago Police Department say they engaged in an intense investigation, ultimately concluding that Smollett staged and orchestrated the attack himself.
Smollett was indicted on 16 criminal counts of filing a false police report, but those charges were suddenly dismissed by the State’s Attorney’s Office, a controversial move that does not legally mean Smollett is not guilty. Still, Smollett has maintained his innocence “since day one,” the actor said during a press conference at the time.
The City of Chicago sued Smollett in response, arguing that he should pay for the investigation under the city’s False Statements Ordinance. That equates to $130,000 in police overtime costs and $260,000 in damages. Smollett’s representation has said the cty is attempting to relitigate the already dismissed case, now in civil court.
U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall of the Northern District of Illinois denied Smollett’s efforts to have the case dismissed. His team argued there’s no way Smollett could have foreseen the police response to his initial report.
The judge faulted Smollett’s attorneys for their “attempts to muddy the waters with irrelevant arguments.”
“The natural, ordinary and reasonable consequence of a police report like this one — a racist, homophobic physical assault in which masked attackers invoked the President of the United States’ official campaign slogan — is an intensive, sprawling investigation like the one that took place,” Kendall wrote in her decision, according to Variety.
“Smollett contends that police overtime pay is not ‘foreseeable in the normal course of events,’ but this is hardly the normal course of events — most crime victims, for instance, do not have the opportunity to discuss the crime on Good Morning America,” she continued. “The allegations were taken seriously by the Chicago Police Department in significant part due to the high profile of the claimant and the extreme nature of the accusations.”
But the case isn’t over yet. The city still must prove its allegation that Smollett knowing lied in the filing of his police report. And again, Smollett, who was written out of the last season of Empire which is airing right now, still says he’s innocent.
That means, unfortunately, that this coming season of giving will include more Smollett-related drama.