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Actor Jussie Smollett Denies Staging Hate Crime, Claims He Had Sexual Relations With One Attacker

© AP Photo / Richard ShotwellJussie Smollett attends Carpool Karaoke: The Series launch event at the Chateau Marmont Hotel on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Jussie Smollett attends Carpool Karaoke: The Series launch event at the Chateau Marmont Hotel on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in Los Angeles.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.12.2021
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On January 2019, the star of musical drama Empire made the headlines after it became known that he was attacked by two men, who shouted racial and homophobic abuse. A subsequent investigation revealed that the two men were actually paid by Smollett to stage the crime for the sake of promoting his career. The actor has denied the accusations.
Actor Jussie Smollett has yet again denied that he orchestrated the attack on himself to further his career. Testifying in court under oath, the 39-year-old has suggested that the two men, who allegedly attacked him, may have had other motivations.

He also said that he had a sexual relationship with one of the men – Bola Osundairo. Smollett said that one night the two reportedly did drugs "and like, made out". The actor claimed that another time, the two got a private room at a female strip club - which they visited with Bola’s brother Ola - and masturbated together. Bola Osundairo has denied that the two had a sexual relationship.

Smollett has also denied previous reports that the attackers were wearing MAGA hats, favoured by supporters of former US president Donald Trump.

False Police Report, Closure of the Case and New Charges

On 29 January 2019, Smollett, who is black and gay, was admitted to a hospital in Chicago, Illinois and said he was attacked by two men wearing ski masks, who were "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs". He said one attacker put a noose on his neck and poured an "unknown chemical substance" on him. He also told police that the perpetrators shouted "this is MAGA country", a reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan "Make America Great Again".

The news has caused shock and anger in US society with police using every resource available to find the perpetrators. A month later, law enforcement officers arrested two men – Ola and Bola Osundairo. Both men are black and worked with Jussie Smollett on the set of musical drama Empire.
Then came a plot twist: police released both men as the investigation revealed that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage a hate crime attack against him so that he would receive media sympathy which would boost his career. "We are not racist. We are not homophobic," the Osundairo brothers said. Police said officers found a cheque the actor used to pay for the hoax crime as well as to purchase materials used in the attack (rope and bleach).

On 21 February, the Illinois State Attorney’s Office filed a felony charge against the actor for filing a false police report. However, a month later all charges against him were dropped in exchange for community service and $10,000 in bail.

"After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case … we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," the Cook County State Attorney said.

The move has raised eyebrows, and both officials and members of the public are wondering why prosecutors chose to drop charges against the actor. In August 2019, a special prosecutor was assigned to investigate how the case was handled and this resulted in new charges being levelled against Smollett. He was indicted on six counts of disorderly conduct pertaining to making false police reports. If found guilty he may face up to three years in prison.

Last week, the Osundairo brothers testified in court, describing how Smollett reportedly orchestrated the attack.

Bola Osundairo said that Smollett allegedly explained the plan to him in a car, while smoking marijuana. He said he agreed to do this because he believed Jussie “could help to further” his career. Smollett told one brother to beat him up, and the other was told to put noose on his neck and pour gasoline on him, Ola Osundairo claimed. In the end they agreed to replace gasoline with bleach, because "I wasn't comfortable pouring gasoline on somebody," Ola said.

Smollett’s legal team has suggested that homophobia may have been the motive in the attack on their client.
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