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07 December 2021

Jussie Smollett tells court that racist and homophobic attack was ‘no hoax’

07 December 2021

Jussie Smollett has taken the witness stand at his trial where he is accused of staging a racist, anti-gay attack on himself and lying to Chicago police about it.

The former Empire TV show actor was testifying as the trial entered its second week and neared a finish.

Smollet, 39, who is gay and black, alleges he was walking home in Chicago when masked men approached him, made racist and homophobic remarks, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing.

He reported the incident to police in Chicago, who classified it as a hate crime and spent 3,000 staff hours on the investigation.

Attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez with her clients Abimbola Osundairo, left, and Olabinjo Osundairo (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP) (AP)

He then told officers he was attacked by supporters of then-president Donald Trump, which ignited political divisions around the country.

Testifying last week, brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, told the court Smollett orchestrated the hoax to get publicity.

They claim he gave them a cheque for $3,500 in January 2019, as well as $100 for supplies, and ordered them to place a noose around his neck and shout anti-gay slurs.

Addressing the court for the first time on Monday, Smollet said he wrote the cheque for nutrition and training advice from Abimbola Osundairo.

Asked by his defence attorney if the money was payment for any kind of hoax, he replied ‘never’.

When asked if he gave the brothers money for supplies, he responded: “Absolutely not.”

Smollett told the court that Abimbola had given him details of a herbal steroid that encourages weight loss but is illegal in the US.

He claimed Abimbola told him he could get him some “on the low” while he was on a then upcoming trip to Nigeria.

Earlier in the hearing, Abimbola testified that Smollett had sent him a text message - which the jury saw last week - about talking “on the low”, and said that during the conversation he asked him about helping to stage the attack.

Smollett’s lawyers argue the attack was real and that the brothers made up the story about a hoax then asked Smollett for one million dollars each to not testify against him at trial.

The charges carry a possible sentence of three years in prison.

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