Actor Jussie Smollett has been found guilty by an Illinois jury for lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime in 2019, where he claimed he was the victim of a “homophobic and racist” attack.
The jury found that Smollet filed a false police report in January 2019 in which he claimed that two masked men had yelled homophobic and racist slurs at him, including telling him this was “MAGA country” before putting a noose around his neck, punching him and pouring a chemical substance on him.
Prosecutors said that Jussie Smollett paid $3,500 to brothers Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo to fake the attack. Abimbola was the actor’s personal trainer at the time. The brothers both testified against Smollett during the trial.
While Smollett denied the allegations, saying that the money had been paid for personal training purposes, the brothers were spotted on security cameras on the night of the attack carrying the rope involved and a container of bleach. Further video footage from a week before showed Smollet and the brothers driving around the area where the attack took place.
In February 2019, Supt. Johnson of the Chicago police stated during a press conference that they believed Smollett had staged the hate crime in order to “further his own public profile” as the case was spoken about for weeks in the media. Smollett was also accused of being unhappy with his salary on the television show Empire and so concocted the plan for a bigger media presence.
Following the recent verdict, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb stated to the press, “During my closing argument, I told the jury that I though the evidence was overwhelming. That, in fact, Mr Smollett had faked the hate crime, and then lied to the police about it, and then compounded his crimes by lying to the jury during the course of this trial, and insulting their intelligence.”
Webb continued, “This jury worked so hard, and for Mr Smollett to get up in front of them and lie for hours and hours and hours, that really compounded his misconduct.”
Smollett was found guilty of five out of six charges against him. Each conduct felony charge comes with a jail sentence of up to three years along with a $25,000 fine. Empire had also dropped the actor from the show following the initial allegations against him.
© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.