A Chicago judge said that American actor Jussie Smollett has staged a hate crime against himself and is "absolutely outrageous" and "despicable" if true.
The 36-year-old African-American actor is accused of filing a false police report claiming to have been the victim of a homophobic and racist attack.
Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke, who is also black, said the "vilest" part of the accident was the use of a noose.
The police say he staged the attack because he was "dissatisfied with his salary."
What happened in court?
"That symbol evokes such evil in the history of this country," Justice Lyke said of a rope that Mr. Smollett claimed the attackers had hung around his neck, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The judge's comments on Thursday's court appearance alluded to the racist lynchings of thousands of black Americans in the post-American civil war era.
Mr. Smollett, who plays in the TV series Empire, is suspected of paying two brothers to stage the attack on himself.
The brothers are collaborating with the investigation, according to the police.
Chicago officials say Mr. Smollett also sent a racist letter to a Fox studio before staging the attack.
Judge Lyke put Mr. Smollett's bail at $ 100,000 (£ 76,000), which requires him to present a $ 10,000 loan and hand over his passport.
Mr. Smollett denies the charge of disorderly conduct. His lawyers said they would "mount an aggressive defense".
Jack Prior, one of the lawyers of the actor, told the court that the allegations were "inconsistent with Mr. Smollett's character" and that the actor "just wants to clarify his name".
If convicted, he could be sentenced to three years in prison and forced to pay the cost of the police investigation.
- Event history
- "I'm the gay Tupac & # 39;
What did the police say?
At a Thursday press conference, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson came up against the "shameful" scheme.
"Why does someone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" He said.
"How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to promote its public profile?"
Supt Johnson accused Mr. Smollett of "taking advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career".
He said Mr. Smollett betrayed the city of Chicago and said that "this publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago did not earn and certainly did not deserve."
The "hoax," he said, "has attracted national attention for weeks" and may discourage future hate crime victims from advancing lest their allegations may be met with skepticism.
He invited the actor "to apologize to this city that he smeared".
"Celebrities, news commentators and even presidential candidates have pondered over something that has been choreographed by an actor," said Supt Johnson, with palpable anger.
"I was hanged and asked why," he added, describing Mr. Smollett's actions as a "slap in the face" to the citizens of Chicago.
How was the case developed?
The openly gay actor said he went to buy food late at night on January 29 from a subway sandwich shop in downtown Chicago, when two whites pitched racist and homophobic insults.
He said that they also punched him, poured a chemical and put a rope around his neck.
Smollett also said that the men told him "this is the land of Maga", referring to President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
A wave of support followed, including Oscar winner Davis Viola and supermodel Naomi Campbell.
In a last week's interview with ABC's morning television show, Mr. Smollett said in tears that he had been "changed forever" by the alleged incident.
But the suspects mounted as police were not able to find any video of the accident from over 50 surveillance cameras they examined. They were not even witnesses.
The investigators were able to track down and identify two men who appeared in a movie near where the actor claimed to have been attacked through a ride-sharing app.
The men – Ola and Abel Osundairo – had left the United States for Nigeria following the alleged attack and were held for almost 48 hours after their return last week.
They were released without charges after providing information that "moved the trajectory of the investigation," the police said.
One of the brothers is the personal trainer of Mr. Smollett and both have worked as extras on Empire, a successful Fox show that describes the life of a music magnate and his family in Chicago.
The police say they have checked that Mr. Smollett signed and agreed to pay $ 3,500 for the brothers' participation.
Supt Johnson said that Mr. Smollett had told at least one of the brothers that he was "dissatisfied" with his salary from Fox.
According to Huffington Post, Mr. Smollett was paid $ 65,000 per episode for his starring role in Empire, which has about 18 episodes per season.
Investigators said today that some small scratches on Smollett's face were probably self-inflicted.
Supt Johnson said that Mr. Smollett first "tried to attract attention by sending a false letter that was based on racial, homophobic and political" to himself in Fox studies.
The police had confirmed at the beginning of February that the white powder – subsequently identified as aspirin – was in the letter.
During another Thursday press conference, police reported that Smollett also claimed that three days before the attack he received an unidentified phone call from a man who uttered a homophobic insult and then hung up.
He told police that that incident happened near a surveillance camera. It was the same camera that the police said that Mr. Smollett would later indicate to the Osundairo brothers in preparation for the alleged buffalo attack.
Last Wednesday, CBS in Chicago obtained footage that appeared to show two people buying materials, including balaclavas, which were supposedly worn by the attackers of the actor.
Mr. Smollett showed up early Thursday.
Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, who do Empire, issued a statement on Thursday saying they were "evaluating the situation" and "considering our options".
In the wake of the attack, the promising White House Democrats Cory Booker and Kamala Harris called the incident a "lynching of our day".
Mrs. Harris, a California senator, said she was "sad, frustrated and disappointed".
President Trump tweeted his sentence after the police press conference on Smollett's "racist and dangerous comments".