In The Know

Jussie Smollett found guilty of lying to police

Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of lying to police about a robbery and hate crime he had staged against himself, bringing an end to a case that shocked the country and political world when the “Empire” actor’s false accusations first emerged.

A Chicago jury found the 39-year-old performer guilty on Thursday of five counts of felony disorderly conduct for making false reports to police. He was acquitted of one count of felony disorderly conduct.

The actor, who is Black and gay, claimed to be a victim of a January 2019 attack, saying two men tied a noose around his neck and shouted racist, homophobic and pro-Trump remarks at him.

But prosecutors in the case argued that Smollett hired two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, to use racist and homophobic slurs against him while wearing red caps similar to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats and to include a rope as part of the fake attack to “make it look like a hate crime.”

The siblings, acquaintances of Smollett, were reportedly paid $3,500 by him to participate in the faux attack.

“That verdict was a resounding message by the jury that, in fact, Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did,” special prosecutor David Webb said during a press conference following the jury’s verdict.

Webb commended the jury for their work on the verdict, saying that for Smollett “to get up in front of them and lie for hours and hours and hours – that really compounded his misconduct.”

“Defendants have a right to go to trial. Defendants have a right to argue that their case has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but defendants do not have the right to go in front of a jury and lie under oath,” he added. 

One of Smollett’s defense attorneys, Nenye Uche, told reporters that they planned on appealing the jury’s verdict.
 
“We obviously respectfully disagree with the jury’s verdict. The verdict is inconsistent. You cannot say Jussie’s lying and Jussie’s not lying for the same exact incidents. So we feel 100 percent confident that this case will be won on appeal,” Uche said.
 
“Unfortunately, that’s not the route we wanted, but sometimes that’s the route that you have to take to win, especially a case where we remain 100 percent confident in our client’s innocence,” he added.

When news of Smollett’s allegations first broke nearly three years ago, several lawmakers expressed support for the entertainer.

Kamala Harris, then a Democratic presidential candidate and a California senator, condemned what she called “an attempted modern day lynching.” She later said she was “sad, frustrated, and disappointed” after Chicago police accused Smollett of arranging the attack himself.

Then-President Trump originally called the Smollett attack “horrible,” but by April mocked the TV star, dubbing him an “actor that nobody ever heard of.”

The trial was delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and after charges against Smollett were dropped and then refiled following a probe into Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the case.

Smollett faces up to three years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been announced, according to The New York Times.

— Caroline Vakil contributed.

Updated at 8:03 p.m.

Tags Alleged assault of Jussie Smollett Chicago Donald Trump Empire Hate crime Jussie Smollett Noose Smollett arrest Smollett case

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