A grand jury's decision to indict Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts was "outrageous," the defense lawyer for the "Empire" actor said Friday.
Such charges have never before been filed on a "victim of a hate crime," attorney Mark Geragos told anchor Anderson Cooper on CNN's "AC360."
“What is happening here is, frankly, a media gangbang of this guy of unprecedented proportions," Geragos said. "And that’s the reason I got into this. I’ve never seen a media pendulum swing more quickly and viciously and rob somebody of their presumption of innocence like this case. It’s startling the way people assume that he’s guilty."
"What is happening here is, frankly, a media gang bang of this guy of unprecedented proportions," says Mark Geragos, Jussie Smollett's attorney, about his client's indictment on 16 felony counts. "It's startling the way people assume he's guilty." https://t.co/28fkRJi4oC pic.twitter.com/BZIvYgNtA1— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) March 9, 2019
Fox News reports the indictment released Friday details Smollett’s disorderly conduct charges for allegedly fabricating a hate crime in late January in Chicago.
Geragos slammed Chicago investigators, who he insisted did not speak to anyone at 20th Century Fox or from the "Empire" television series over Smollett’s supposed salary frustrations. The network had no comment Friday.
The lawyer also slammed the Chicago Police Department over alleged leaks to the media, saying “all of the information that was being leaked was false.”
When Smollett's account of the attack first emerged, he had many defenders in Hollywood, the media, and among Democrats seeking the presidency in 2020, including U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, both of whom called the alleged attack a “modern-day lynching,” before Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson went public with his investigators’ findings.