A jury this morning found Empire actor Jussie Smollett guilty on five counts of making a false report to Chicago police. Smollett claimed that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019. However, prosecutors alleged he staged that attack himself.
Chicago police accused the Empire actor of orchestrating the attack early in their investigation. They claimed he paid two Nigerian brothers who worked as extras on Empire to fake the attack.
Bola and Ola Osundairo appeared at the trial as prosecution witnesses. They testified Jussie Smollett designed the incident as a PR stunt. During the ‘attack’ the brothers pretended to punch Smollett, pour bleach on him and put a noose around his neck. They also yelled racist and homophobic slurs at Smollett’s suggestion.
Smollett, in his defence, claimed one brother was a homophobe and that he had sex with the other.
Charges brought, dropped, investigated and reinstated
The charges follow an ongoing legal saga that saw charges against Smollett brought, dropped, investigated and reinstated.
The producers of Empire dropped Jussie Smollett from the series soon after his original 2019 arrest for making false police reports. His acting career has been on hold since.
Smollett also faces a civil suit from the city of Chicago. The municipality wants the actor to reimburse the cost of investigating the fake attack. His 2019 countersuit was previously dismissed.
Prosecutor Dan Webb said Chicago police dedicated enormous resources to investigating the alleged crime.
“Besides being against the law, it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as a real hate crime and then make sure it involved words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country.”
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