Jussie Smollett found guilty in hate crime hoax
The former "Empire" star faces up to three years in prison for an allegedly staged attack in 2019.
After about a week-long trial, actor/musician Jussie Smollett was found guilty by a Cook County jury in Chicago Thursday after being accused of staging a hate crime in 2019.
As theGrio has extensively reported, Smollett told police in January 2019 that he was a victim of racist and homophobic attack. Following an investigation, Chicago police alleged Smollett orchestrated and lied about the hate crime, causing a legal and media frenzy that made international headlines.
This week, Smollett went to trial after being charged with six felony counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports to the police; he was found guilty on five of the six charges.
The jury reportedly deliberated for nine hours over the course of two days before finding Smollett guilty. Per Chicago Tribune, Smollett could face up to three years in prison, “though with no prior criminal record its far more likely he would receive a lighter sentence including possible probation.”
Smollett is said to have “remained stoic” as the verdict was announced.
The verdict seemingly ends a nearly three-year saga following the alleged attack, which saw an initial wave of support for Smollett from public figures, politicians, and celebrities alike. Per the Tribune, despite the case’s high profile, “jurors were tasked with determining only one thing: Whether Smollett, in fact, staged the attack on himself, then lied to police about it.”
As Associated Press reported, defense attorneys suggested during the trial that the Osundairo brothers, Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, targeted the Empire actor and staged the hoax themselves for money.
Smollett’s legal team argued that, following interrogation from the Chicago police, the brothers then demanded $1 million each from Smollett to “not testify” against him at trial. Both men said in court last week that Smollett paid and directed them to perform the fake attack in order to gain media attention.
Smollett was previously indicted in March 2019 on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct. A week later, however, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped all charges, saying that the actor “did community service, lost his $10,000 bond and was no danger to the community,” on top of having no previous felony convictions.
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