Trial set to start on charges Smollett faked racist attack
CHICAGO (AP) — A popular actor steps out onto the street and is brutally reminded that, despite his fame and wealth, places still exist where the color of his skin and sexual orientation put him in danger. That was the story that ricocheted around the world after Jussie Smollett, a Black and openly gay actor, reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a hate crime. Nearly three years later, Smollett is about to stand trial on charges that he staged the whole thing. He was charged with felony disorderly conduct after law enforcement and prosecutors said he lied to police about what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago.
© Provided by People Rob Kim/Getty Jussie Smollett
Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett has stepped into the Chicago courtroom of Judge James Linn for the start of his criminal trial, PEOPLE confirms. © Rob Kim/Getty Jussie Smollett
Court officials confirm Smollett, 39, arrived at the courthouse shortly before 9:30 a.m.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Smollett — dressed in a dark suit and a dark face mask — walked into the courtroom with two supporters flanking him and holding on to both of his arms.
Smollett is charged with six counts of disorderly conduct on suspicion of making false reports to investigators in 2019 after telling police he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
Key moments since Jussie Smollett reported Chicago attack
CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett goes to trial Monday on charges that he lied to Chicago police when the former “Empire” actor and R&B singer reported being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack nearly three years ago. Some key moments in the story: Jan. 22, 2019 — Smollett receives a racist and homophobic threatening letter at the studio in Chicago where "Empire" is filmed. Police later say they believe Smollett sent the letter himself. Jan. 29, 2019— Jussie Smollett tells police he was attacked by two men in downtown Chicago at 2 a.m.
His lawyer has entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.
RELATED: Jussie Smollett Seen Wearing Rope Around His Neck on Night of Alleged Attack in Police Footage
Smollett, an openly gay Black actor, was originally indicted in March 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming that two men attacked him on Jan. 29, 2019. Those charges were unexpectedly dropped later that same month.
"After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Jussie Smollett trial begins with jury selection in Chicago on Monday
The actor Jussie Smollett has denied for more than two years he lied about being the victim of a hate crime. Starting Monday, he and his lawyers will fight the accusations at trial.The long road in the Jussie Smollett case finally reaches trial Monday in Chicago, more than two years after police first alleged the actor lied about being the victim of a hate crime and wrongfully diverted weeks of investigative manpower.
The case against him was later revived by a special prosecutor, Dan Webb, and in early 2020, Smollett was once again charged with disorderly conduct. The indictment against the actor alleges he "knew at the time … there was no reasonable ground for believing that such an offense had been committed" when he told police he'd been assaulted by "two unknown offenders."
During the alleged attack, Smollett claimed the black-clad, masked men spewed racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Authorities allege the incident was staged for publicity purposes.
RELATED: Jussie Smollett Says He's Been 'Truthful and Consistent on Every Single Level Since Day 1'
Smollett maintains his innocence, and said that he has told police nothing but the truth.
Two brothers — Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo — came forward following the attack, alleging that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the 45-second attack.
Jussie Smollett Trial: Brothers Allegedly Hired to Stage Attack to Appear in Court
Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo—known as Abel and Ola—have alleged that Jussie Smollett orchestrated and paid them for his own attack at their hands.Former Empire star Smollett had alleged that in January 2019, he was attacked by two men who doused him with bleach and placed a noose around his neck as they yelled that he was in "MAGA country," in apparent reference to former President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again.
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Following his arrest, the actor's run on Empire abruptly ended, with Fox CEO Charlie Collier saying Smollett would not return for the show's sixth and final season.
Smollett had portrayed musician Jamal Lyon in the series.
Smollett's trial is expected to last one week.
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Don Lemon Faces 'Ethical Questions' Over Jussie Smollett's Tip-Off Testimony .
Don Lemon has come under fire, after Jussie Smollett testified the CNN anchor warned him that police didn't believe his account of his alleged racial attack.Former Empire star Smollett is currently awaiting the jury's verdict, after standing trial amid accusations he orchestrated his own alleged attack by two men in 2019 on the streets of Chicago, during which he stated that a noose was tied around his neck.