Actor Jussie Smollett has been found guilty on five of six charges by a Chicago jury after he was accused of falsely reporting that he had been the victim of a brutal, hate-driven beating.
The “Empire” actor, faces no jail time after the 12-member jury found him guilty of five counts of felony disorderly conduct after Smollett told police he was brutally assaulted in the early morning of Jan. 29, 2019, in the Chicago neighborhood of Streeterville.
While the offenses are class 4 felonies that are each punishable by up to three years in jail, Smollett’s clean criminal record makes any sort of jail time highly unlikely, reports NBC.
However, in the racially-charged environment of the United States, the Black and gay actor – who claimed that he was the target of racist and homophobic slurs, chemicals tossed into his face, and even a rope tied around his neck – will likely face years of fallout for the bizarre affair.
“Besides being against the law, it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as real hate crime and then make sure it involved words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country,” said special prosecutor Dan Webb, according to the Guardian.
Smollett gained massive sympathy from media, politicians, and advocacy groups following the initial report, with even then-President Trump decrying the attack and saying “That I can tell you is horrible. It doesn’t get worse.” Smollett had alleged that his so-called attackers shouted a pro-Trump slogan at the time.
Things took a radical turn only two weeks later when Chicago police apprehended two Nigerian brothers at O’Hare International Airport for their connection to the event.
The two were quickly released before Smollett was arrested on Feb. 21, 2019, with CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson saying the actor’s story was an elaborate hoax aimed at bolstering his career.
“Mr Smollett didn’t want the crime solved … he didn’t want the brothers apprehended,” Webb explained.
Before long, the two Nigerian men – Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo – admitted that Smollett recruited the two to stage the attack.
The “Empire” actor soon was written off from his role in the popular Fox drama as gay singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon.
While the charges against the actor were dropped in March, 2019, the actor’s insistence that he wasn’t lying, and that instead the police had falsely accused him, made matters worse.
The City of Chicago then sued Smollett to recoup the money expended on the investigation.
The criminal case against the actor was renewed after a special prosecutor was appointed who then prepared a fresh salvo of indictments against Smollett for allegedly cooking up the hoax.
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