Actor Jussie Smollett faces jail time after a jury in Chicago found him guilty of falsely reporting to the police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic assault.
“Mr. Smollett didn’t want the crime solved,” Daniel K. Webb said during his closing argument to the jury. “He wanted to report it as a hate crime; he wanted media exposure, but he didn’t want the brothers apprehended.”
The 12-member panel deliberated for about nine hours before returning the verdict. The jury convicted the “Empire” star on five counts of disorderly conduct related to filing a false police report on January 29, 2019.
They acquitted him on one count of disorderly conduct related to filing a false police report two weeks later, on February 14, 2019.
Law enforcement had maintained that Smollet’s claim amounted to a hoax. He reported to law enforcement that he was attacked near his apartment by men yelling, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to White supremacists who backed former President Donald Trump.
Prosecutors said Smollett worked together with his alleged attackers, Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo, to create the hoax.
They claimed Smollett told the brothers to punch and bruise him, pour bleach on his clothes, and affix a noose around his neck.
Webb said Smollett staged the attack after receiving death threats in the mail. The actor became upset when producers of the television hit series “Empire” failed to show empathy, Webb argued.
Smollett faces up to three years in prison when he’s sentenced. After the verdict, Smollett’s attorney Nenye Uchethe said that he will appeal the conviction.
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.