CHICAGO (CBS) — Jussie Smollett will soon be facing a civil lawsuit from the City of Chicago, which is demanding the actor pay for the cost of investigating his allegedly made-up story about a racist attack.
The lawsuit is being drafted by the city’s Law Department and will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.
Thursday was the city’s deadline day for the “Empire” actor to reimburse the city more than $130,000 for the cost of the investigation into the alleged racist and homophobic attack that police determined was a hoax.
Last week, Cook County prosecutors dropped 16 counts of disorderly conduct against Smollett, after he agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail, and performed 16 hours of community service.
Smollett has maintained his innocence, and said he was “truthful and consistent” from the start, but prosecutors have said they do not believe he is innocent, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said the actor owes Chicago an apology.
Last Thursday, the mayor 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.”
The March 28 letter said, if Smollett does not pay within seven days, the city could prosecute him for making a false statement, and take him to civil court to seek up to three times that amount as damages, plus court costs and attorney’s fees.
With a civil case, the standards for proving he staged the January attack would be lower than in criminal court. While a criminal trial requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction, a civil trial would require the city to prove only that a “preponderance of evidence” – meaning it’s more likely true than not – that the incident was a hoax orchestrated by Smollett.
Smollett said he was attacked by two men, who doused him with a chemical and put a noose around his neck in January.