US

Jussie Smollett Found Guilty In Hate Crime Hoax Case

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
Font Size:

Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett was found guilty of five charges related to a false police report he filed alleging that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime.

Smollett, who starred for five seasons on Fox’s “Empire,” was convicted of five charges of disorderly conduct, and faces up to two-and-a-half years in prison. A first time offender, he is likely to be sentenced to probation or community service. The jury returned the verdict after two days of deliberation.

Smollett claimed that while out at 2 a.m. in Chicago in 2019, two men shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him, before punching him, pouring bleach on him and hanging a noose around his neck. The alleged assault received widespread condemnation, with media figures and politicians asserting that he was the victim of a “modern-day lynching.” Smollett later claimed that he was assaulted due to his criticisms of then-President Donald Trump. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Top Democrats Called Jussie Smollett Hate Crime Hoax A ‘Lynching’)

However, police later determined that Smollett and two staffers on “Empire” staged the attack. One of the staffers, Olabinjo Osundairo, testified that Smollett orchestrated the hoax in order to gain positive media attention. Another staffer, Abimbola Osundairo, testified that Smollett asked him to “pull the punch so I don’t hurt him.”

Smollett also testified that he and Abimbola Osundairo engaged in a sexual relationship and consumed drugs together. He also testified that he paid the Osundairo brothers $3,500 for a meal plan and personal training, although the brothers testified that the payment was to stage the assault.

Smollett was initially charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. However, the state attorney’s office dropped the charges, in a move that some observers alleged was politically-motivated. A special prosecutor was later appointed by a Cook County judge to oversee the case.