Actor Jussie Smollett lost a round in court Tuesday as part of his effort to avoid having to pay the city of Chicago for the costs of an investigation into his allegations that he was the victim of a crime.
The city is suing Smollett for $130,106 to cover costs related to the investigation that eventually ruled Smollett’s claim was a hoax. The actor’s attorneys had wanted the suit dismissed.
“This will be going forward,” U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said Tuesday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The decision increases the likelihood of a trial in the civil lawsuit. Such a trial could take place some time next year.
In a ruling that noted Smollett’s celebrity status, Kendall said “it isn’t unreasonable to think” Chicago police would make a significant effort to investigate the alleged racist and homophobic attack the former “Empire” star had claimed took place, USA Today reported.
— Courthouse News (@CourthouseNews) October 22, 2019
Smollett’s lawyers, who have dwelt on the fact Smollett never admitted he was guilty of perpetrating a hoax and that the prosecution dismissed the case against him, called the city’s lawsuit a “perverse tactic,” the Sun-Times reported.
Chicago police have said they spent more than 1,800 hours of manpower trying to solve Smollett’s case, and that he should foot the bill, not city taxpayers.
Smollett’s lawyers have also argued he would not have expected Chicago police to have spent so much time and money on the case.
“Mr. Smollett has always maintained his innocence and is eager to have the complete facts of the case come out,” William Quinlan, Smollett’s lawyer, said in a statement to USA Today.
“He looks forward to taking depositions and otherwise bringing to light many of the facts that have been overlooked in the court of public opinion to date,” he added.
“Mr. Smollett is confident that once the full story is available he will be vindicated.”
Earlier this month, Smollett issued a declaration of innocence on Instagram after he was compared to a Virginia girl who lied about an alleged attack.
“With all due respect brother, y’all can clown me all you want but my story has actually never changed and I haven’t lied about a thing,” Smollett wrote in the post.
“Y’all can continue to be misinformed, internalized sheep, who believe what actual proven liars feed you or you can read the actual docs. Either way, Imma be alright. I know me and what happened. You don’t. So carry on. All Love,” he added.
In late January, Smollett reported to police that he’d been assaulted by two men during an early morning confrontation in downtown Chicago. The men allegedly splashed Smollett with a chemical and placed a rope around his neck while shouting,“This is MAGA country.”
Smollett was eventually charged with 16 felony counts for allegedly making a false report — charges that were eventually dismissed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Although State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case, citing a conflict of interest due to communication with Smollett’s family, subsequent reports indicated she remained in contact with those who were investigating the allegations to prepare for prosecution.
Chicago police reacted with outrage after charges were dropped, leading to accusations of political motivation by Foxx and her office. A special prosecutor has been appointed to examine how the State Attorney’s Office handled the case.
If the city wins, it could collect up to triple the amount for which it is suing, which would amount to about $390,000.