Words: Alastair James
Jussie Smollett has told a court that “there was no hoax” in regard to an alleged attack against him in 2019.
The US actor, 39, claimed he was attacked in Chicago when he was set upon by two men who tied a rope around his neck and used racist language that referred to Donald Trump’s famous “MAGA” phrase “Make America Great Again”.
In October, the Empire actor, who is gay, made a request to have the case thrown. out but this was dismissed by a judge.
In 2020 the actor pleaded not guilty to six charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police.
"As a black man in America, I don't trust the police"
Last week, the two Nigerian brothers who allegedly carried out the attack, Ola and Abel Osundairo, testified that they had been paid $3,500 by Smollett to stage the assault.
Prosecutors are arguing the alleged attack was stage to boost Smollett’s profile, and that he was unhappy with his salary on Empire.
According to the BBC, Smollett said on Monday (6 December) the money paid to the Osundairo brothers was for a meal and workout plan and said he “never” paid for the attack. The actor also told the court he assumed one of his attackers was white given the use of Donald-Trump’s slogan.
Explaining why he didn’t immediately call the police, Smollett said: “As a black man in America, I don't trust the police, I'm sorry.” He added that he was angry when his manager called the police.
Smollet also told the court that he had lost his livelihood following the incident. The actor was removed from the final few episodes of Empire's fifth season.
The BBC reports that the actor could get a three-year prison sentence but it’s thought that he will be given a lighter sentence or probation due to no previous convictions.
In February 2019, he was charged with filing a false police report to which he pleaded not guilty before all charges were dropped. Police then looked at whether Smollett had staged the attack.
The case was reopened by a special prosecutor, who charged Smollett with six new charges of disorderly conduct in 2020 to which the actor pleaded not guilty.