Smollett’s lawyers filed a response Tuesday to Chicago’s lawsuit in federal court. They also filed a counterclaim against the city, saying Smollett was the victim of a malicious prosecution that caused “humiliation, mental anguish and extreme emotional distress.
The counterclaim, obtained by Variety, alleges that the Chicago Police Department “obtained false and unreliable statements from the Osundairo Brothers” and used “those statements as the basis for the complaint against Mr. Smollett.”
The 37-year-old actor told police he was beaten in January by two men who looped a noose around his neck. Chicago police said it was staged, and Smollett was charged with making a false report.
But prosecutors in March dropped the case. Smollett maintains his innocence but agreed to let authorities keep a $10,000 bail.
Referring to investigators, the filing document also says that “ignoring evidence that contradicted those statements played a significant role in the commencement of proceedings against Mr. Smollett.”
Smollett says his $10,000 payment after the close of a criminal case should prevent Chicago from seeking reimbursement for a police investigation of his claim that he was a victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January.
Smollett’s counterclaim requests that the city of Chicago not seek further reimbursement for the police investigation into his claim, beyond the $10,000 bail he already paid, because of the city’s “inequitable conduct in filing criminal charges against Mr. Smollett without probable cause and maliciously prosecuting him in bad faith.”
The actor’s lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and that Smollett be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.
In January, Smollett reported to police that he was the victim of a hate crime. After an extensive police investigation, the actor was charged in March with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct after he allegedly made false claims regarding the hate crime.
Police allege the actor, who is black and openly gay, staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity.
Smollett has denied all allegations made against him by police.
—With files from The Associated Press