Smollett Found Guilty of Staging Racist, Homophobic Attack on Himself

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American actor, Jussie Smollett, has been found guilty of staging a hate crime against himself in a bid to bolster his career. The one-time star of the TV drama, Empire, who is black and openly gay, is said to have lied to police. Prosecutors believe Smollett to have claimed he had been accosted on a dark Chicago Street by two masked strangers in January 2019.

Following 9 hours of deliberation from the Cook County Circuit Court jury, Jussie has been found guilty of five of the six felony disorderly conduct counts he faced. The actor has been presented with one for each time he was accused of lying to police, with each felony count carrying a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

While it’s certainly possible that he could receive a sentence involving prison time, the much more likely scenario is that he would receive probation with some amount of community service,” former Cook County Prosecutor Eryk Wachnik told Reuters.

Although Cook County Judge, James Linn, did not set a date for sentencing, he did schedule a presentencing hearing for January 27th. Smollett said the men threw a noose around his neck and poured chemicals on him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs, and expressions of support for former President Donald Trump.

Two months following the alleged assault, Smollett had been arrested with police claiming he had paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack. He eventually pleaded not guilty to six counts of felony disorderly conduct.

The two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, testified that Smollett paid them to participate in a phony attack and instructed them how to attack him. During the trial, the actor took the stand and disputed their accounts, denying all allegations made against him. An emergency room doctor who treated Smollett on the night of the attack told the jury that the actor suffered real injuries.

Smollett’s acting career declined after the incident, losing his role as a singer-songwriter in the final season of Empire. The case took an unexpected turn when the Cook County state’s attorney’s office dropped a 16-count indictment against him in 2019. The dismissal drew criticism from then-Mayor Rahm Emanueland the city’s police superintendent, who called the reversal a miscarriage of justice.

June of that year saw a special prosecutor assigned to examine the case who, following a five-month investigation, recommended charging Smollett, with a grand jury returning a six-count felony disorderly conduct indictment.