WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Jussie Smollett was found guilty on five counts in connection with staging a hate crime against himself in Chicago.
- On January 29, 2019, the ex-“Empire” actor said he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
- “This person felt significantly larger than me. They were dressed in dark clothes, a ski mask,” Smollett testified.
Jussie Smollett was found guilty on five out of six counts on Thursday in connection with staging a hate crime against himself nearly three years ago in Chicago.
The offenses could be punishable by up to three years behind bars. But Smollett has a clean criminal record, making any jail time highly unlikely.
Dan Webb, the special prosecutor selected to lead the case, said the sixth charge was an aggravated battery charge. He said after the verdict that he was proud of the jury, characterizing Smollett’s defense as a “completely ridiculous story.”
He also defended the Chicago Police Department’s response to Smollett’s initial report of a hate crime.
“For the next three weeks, these 26 Chicago officers spent 3,000 hours of time costing the city well over $100,000 for a fake crime that never occurred,” Webb said. “And by the way, a fake crime that denigrates what a real-hate crime is and to use these meanings and symbols that are so important in our society. It’s clear why the police would take it seriously.”
Smollett’s defense attorney said they will appeal, calling his client “an innocent man.”
“We feel 100 percent confident that this case will be won on appeal,” lawyer Nenye Uche said. Smollett is disappointed and is confident his name will be cleared, Uche said.
Smollett left court without answering questions from reporters.
Smollett said two men punched him, kicked him, used racist and homophobic slurs, threw chemicals in his face, wrapped rope around his neck and even yelled out a slogan in support of then-President Donald Trump.
The initial report brought huge support for Smollett, who is Black and gay.
But the Chicago police investigation took a radical turn two weeks later when officers detained two Nigerian brothers at O’Hare International Airport in connection with the reported beating.
Source: NBC News