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Judge orders file in Jussie Smollett criminal case unsealed

Jussie Smollett waves leaves Cook County Court after

Jussie Smollett waves leaves Cook County Court after his charges were dropped in Chicago on March 26, 2019.   Photo Credit: AP / Paul Beaty

A judge in Chicago has ordered the file in the Jussie Smollett criminal case unsealed.

Cook County Judge Steven Watkins said Thursday that while there are good arguments in favor of keeping the file sealed, the "Empire" actor forfeited his rights to keep the case sealed to protect his privacy by talking to the media before and after prosecutors dismissed the charges against him.

Smollett, 36, had been charged with 16 counts alleging he lied to police when reporting he'd been the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack in January. Police insist the actor, who is black and gay, staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity.

Prosecutors dropped all charges with little explanation.

The criminal case was dismissed March 26. Smollett wanted the case sealed, saying that he had "the right to be left alone."

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