The American actor Jussie Smollett was found guilty, Thursday, December 9, by a court in Chicago, of having staged in 2019 a racist and homophobic attack of which he claimed to be the victim and which had provoked a wave of indignation in the era in the United States.
The 39-year-old African-American gay comedian was accused of having “Planned” a false assault by paying 3,500 dollars (approximately 3,000 euros) to two brothers of Nigerian origin, and of having lied several times to the police in his statements. The sentence will be pronounced later. He faces three years in prison, but could be sentenced only to community service.
According to US media reports, Smollett’s lawyer Nenye Uche has announced that the actor intends to appeal. “The verdict is inconsistent”, he said. “We are 100% confident that we will win this case on appeal”, he said during a press conference after the verdict was announced.
“It wasn’t a hoax”
Fallen star of the hit TV series Empire, Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty. He has always claimed to have been attacked in the middle of the night on January 29, 2019 in a street in the metropolis of the north of the United States by two masked men, claiming to be supporters of President Donald Trump. They allegedly hit him with racist and homophobic slurs and put a noose around his neck.
“It wasn’t a hoax”, he asserted on Monday in a long-awaited, denial testimony ” 100 % “ the accusations. According to his lawyers, Jussie Smollett was attacked by Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, two brothers he met on the set ofEmpire, who were motivated by money and one of whom was homophobic.
The actor explained that the $ 3,500 was to pay for a training and nutrition program developed by Abimbola, who then tried unsuccessfully to get himself hired as a bodyguard.
But for the prosecution, the comedian engineered the attack to advance his career and because he criticized the production studios for not reacting after receiving a letter and a threatening phone call.
The two brothers, who were not prosecuted, had delivered damning testimonies against the actor last week. According to Abimbola Osundairo, the actor “Spoke of the studios which did not take the letter of threats seriously”.
“He then told me he wanted me to hit him, and I was supposed to hit him but not too hard”, said this boxer, who fights at the national level among amateurs. He agreed because he felt indebted to the actor, who helped him get a small role on the show. He also denied having had a romantic relationship with Jussie Smollett. Olabinjo Osundairo for his part detailed how the actor would have told him what insults to utter.
This case had caused a shock in a country still strongly marked by racial and sexual discrimination. Jussie Smollett immediately received the support of many personalities from the cultural and political world, including that of the American vice-president Kamala Harris, senator of California at the time, who had qualified the event of “Modern attempt at lynching”.
The telesurveillance images, the examination of the telephone data of the three men and of videos had however quickly sowed doubt among the investigators, who concluded in a staging. “False complaints cause real damage”, said Eddie Johnson, then Chicago police chief, accusing Mr. Smollett of having “Exploited the pain and anger arising from racism”.
The two brothers had fled to Nigeria after the assault. They were arrested on their return to Chicago in mid-February.
Jussie Smollett was indicted for false filing of a complaint, but the charges were suddenly dropped in March 2019, in exchange for $ 10,000 and two days of community service. He was charged again in February 2020 for his alleged role in the assault.
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American actor Jussie Smollett convicted of organizing his own assault