Empire actor Jussie Smollett found guilty of lying about racist and homophobic attack
Actor Jussie Smollett staged a racist and homophobic attack against himself and then lied to police about it, a jury has found.
While he maintained his innocence throughout the one-week trial, the former Empire star, 39, was found guilty on Thursday of five counts of disorderly conduct.
Each count carries a penalty of up to three years in prison. Given Smollett’s lack of previous convictions, experts have said a lighter sentence or probation and community service is most likely.
He was released following the verdict and Judge James Linn set a post-trial hearing for January 27. A date for sentencing has yet to be set.
The jury of six men and six women reached its decision in just nine hours.
Speaking after the verdict was read, Smollett’s attorney, Nenye Uche, said he would appeal the conviction, telling reporters that his client was “100% innocent”.
He said they were confident that Smollet would be “cleared of all, all accusations on all charges”.
Adding: “Unfortunately we were facing an uphill battle where Jussie was already tried and convicted in the media and then we had to somehow get the jury to forget or unsee all the news stories that they had been hearing that were negative for the last three years.”
The trial stemmed from an incident nearly three years ago, in January 2019, when Smollett told police he was the victim of an attack.
Smollett, who is black and gay, told police he was set upon by two assailants who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, yelled a Trump slogan, dumped a “chemical substance” on him, and tied a noose around his neck while he was walking late at night in Chicago.
An investigation into the attack was opened by authorities, but in February of that year, police charged Smollett with filing a false police report, alleging he had staged the assault.
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