Jussie Smollett was found guilty on Thursday by a Chicago jury of five felony counts of disorderly conduct for falsely reporting a racist and homophobic hate crime, an attack prosecutors contend he staged himself.
KAMPALA | LIFESTYLE UGANDA (https://lifestyleuganda.com/) — US actor Jussie Smollett was found guilty of five felony counts of disorderly conduct on Thursday for falsely telling police he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime in 2019, an attack prosecutors said he deliberately staged.
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- In March 2019, Cook County prosecutors dropped the initial 16 felony charges against him.
- Smollett’s conduct initially generated outrage, with politicians and celebrities defending him.
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The actor told police that two masked men attacked him in the middle of the night as he walked near his Chicago home in January 2019. He was a star of the television show Empire at the time.
Based on examination of closed-circuit television images and the data from the cellphones of Smollett and his alleged attackers, investigators ultimately concluded that he orchestrated the entire attack.
Mary Wisniewski, a spokesperson for Cook County Circuit Court, said in a statement to reporters that the jury found Jussie Smollett guilty of five of six counts of disorderly conduct.
A sentence of up to three years in prison could be handed down, but probation and community service could be substituted. No sentencing date was set.
While he pleaded not guilty on all charges against him, Jussie Smollett, who is gay, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and African-American, maintained his innocence in the face of a damning public account of the charges against him.
The actor had received a piece of hate mail from a fan that he felt was not taken seriously by his employers. He then hired two brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, to stage the attack while invoking Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
The prosecutor in Cook County dropped the initial 16 felony counts in March 2019, giving the case a strange turn.
He was, however, indicted again in February 2020 by a grand jury in Cook County for six counts of disorderly conduct related to the alleged false reporting in Chicago.
The Empire TV show dropped Smollett after allegations were made against him. He was thus acquitted of a sixth count.
The 39-year-old Smollett insisted “there was no hoax” during the court trial, local media reported. He denied discussing a staged attack with any of his alleged accomplices.
The actor and his lawyer then acted out the fight between the actor and the brothers in front of the court, with Smollett playing the attacker.
Abimbola Osundairo said Smollett discussed how the studio wasn’t taking hate mail seriously when testifying about having been paid to stage the assault, which the Osundairo brothers testified they had staged.
Osundairo said, “Then he told me he wanted me to beat him up.” He said I am supposed to punch him, but not too hard.
The brothers fled to Nigeria after the alleged attack. They were arrested after returning to Chicago in mid-February.
Smollett’s treatment initially sparked outrage, with many politicians and celebrities jumping to his defence.
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