DALLAS — As backlash continues to grow following the arrest of Jussie Smollet, both law enforcement and survivors of hate crimes are worried that true victims (both future and past) will now be met with a new level of skepticism.
Smollett, 36, is now facing one felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
At the end of January, the 'Empire' star told police that he was beaten by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs and then placed a noose around his neck.
He also said that they yelled "MAGA country" and poured a chemical substance on him.
MAGA is an abbreviation for "Make America Great Again" a phrase often used by President Donald Trump
A number of unpredictable turns have come in the investigation.
This week, after police interviewed the two men involved in the attack Smollett described, they came to the conclusion that Smollett staged everything to promote his career.
The Superintendent of Chicago Police, Eddie Johnson, said that the two men involved added that Smollett paid them to orchestrate the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary.
“I am left hanging my head asking ‘why?’" Johnson said. "Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? ... How can an individual who's been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in the city in the face with these false claims?"
A wide variety of reactions have followed Smollett's arrest.
Michael Dominguez in Dallas says he's felt saddened.
"I've teetered back and forth between frustration, anger, and disbelief," Dominguez said.
In October of 2015, Dominguez was walking home from a bar in the Oak Lawn neighborhood when he was violently attacked.
His skull and eye socket were fractured, and he received wounds to his neck, arm, and side.
Dominguez doesn't remember the attack and woke up in the hospital.
"You know, there are doctors around me, pulling at me, and telling me not to move and to remain calm," Dominguez said.
Dominguez is just one of many gay men who were attacked or robbed in the Oak Lawn area between 2015 and 2016.
At least 14 attacks were reported and at least two were considered hate crimes. Dominguez, who doesn't remember the attack, can't definitively say he was a victim of a hate crime for that reason. His attacker was also never caught.
But police believe he was likely targeted because he's gay. Dominguez helped form the community group Take Back Oak Lawn after his attack, and worked with law enforcement to educate the Dallas area about the impacts of discrimination.
Dominguez worries that Smollett's alleged hoax endangers victims of hate both future and past.
"I'm less concerned about what happens to Smollett at this point," Dominguez said. "I'm more worried about the other Jussie's who are going to come forth...young gay men who are targeted, who are going to see this and say well there's no possible way they're going to believe me now."
Because of that, Dominguez said that Smollett's arrest is a step backward.
"You've erased the legacy and all the good that you've done because you've put hundreds of thousands of lives in danger, because of what?" Dominguez said. "What was it worth at the end of the day?"