Jussie Smollett Convicted of Lying to Police Over ‘Staged’ Attack
(CHICAGO) — Former EmpireJussie Smollett, actor was convicted on Thursday for staging an antigay racist attack on him nearly three years back and lying to Chicago Police about it.
Smollett stood before the jury as it read the verdict. He showed no reaction.
The jury found the 39-year-old guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct—one count for each separate time he was charged with lying to police in the days immediately after the alleged attack. On a sixth charge, he was found not guilty of lying in front of a detective mid-February. This was weeks after Smollett had claimed that he had been assaulted.
Outside court, special prosecutor Dan Webb called the verdict “a resounding message by the jury that Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did.”
Judge James Linn set a post-trial hearing for Jan. 27, and said he would schedule Smollett’s sentencing at a later date. A class 4 felony, disorderly conduct can lead to a sentence of three years in prison. However, experts believe that Smollett could be put on probation and required to complete community service, if convicted.
Smollett may suffer more damage in his professional and private lives. Smollett was fired on Empire after prosecutors said the alleged attack was a hoax, and he told jurors earlier this week that “I’ve lost my livelihood.”
Following a one-week trial where two brothers testified, Smollett hired them to create the fake attack at his Chicago home in January 2019, the jury deliberated just nine hours on Wednesday and Thursday. The brothers claimed that Smollett told them to wrap a noose around their necks and make rough of him in front of a surveillance camera. He also said that he would like video footage of the incident made public on social media.
Smollett testified that he was the victim of a real hate crime, telling jurors “there was no hoax.” He called the brothers “liars” and said the $3,500 check he wrote them was for meal and workout plans. His attorneys argued that the brothers attacked the actor—who is gay and Black—because they are homophobic and didn’t like “who he was.” They also alleged the brothers made up the story about the attack being staged to get money from Smollett, and that they said they wouldn’t testify against him if Smollett paid them each $1 million.
Learn more ‘I Am Forever Changed.’ Jussie Smollett Speaks About Racist, Homophobic Attack for the First Time
In closing arguments on Wednesday, a prosecutor told jurors there was “overwhelming evidence” that Smollett staged the attack, then lied to police about it for publicity. His defense attorney said prosecutors’ case was based on lies. Dan Webb, the special prosecutor for Smollett told the jury that Chicago police used enormous resources to investigate what they thought was a fake criminal.
“Besides being against the law, it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as a real hate crime and then make sure it involved words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country,” Webb said.