Former “American Idol” finalist Clay Aiken said Monday that “Empire” star Jussie Smollett should be “made an example of” if the accusations he staged a hate crime prove to be true.
“I don’t want to rush to judgment — that said, if it bears out and the evidence shows that it’s proven in a court, that he did what the Chicago police are saying he’s done, I do hope that … we do make an example of him,” Aiken told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”
“There is an instinct sometimes for high-profile people to get probation and I don’t believe that this is a situation at all to not be made an example of,” he added.
Smollett last Thursday surrendered to authorities after he was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
The actor, who is black and gay, initially claimed last month that he was the victim of a violent and racist attack in Chicago. The actor said that one of his attackers shouted “This is MAGA country,” in a reference to President Trump’s “Make American Great Again” campaign slogan.
Chicago police now allege that Smollett staged the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
Aiken, who is an LGBTQ advocate, said that he would be “disappointed” if Smollett is found guilty and not held accountable for his actions, comparing the actor’s case to the highly publicized trial of Martha Stewart.
Stewart, who was convicted in 2004 of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about a stock sale. She served a five-month prison sentence and a two-year period of supervised release.
“We sent Martha Stewart to jail and the judge in large part said that was to be an example to others not to do what she had done — I would be very disappointed if something spent this amount of time, this amount of money, this amount of exposure on a hoax,” Aiken told Hill.TV.
To Watch Clay Aiken’s full interview, click here.