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Jussie Smollett jailed for 150 days for lying to police over fake ‘homophobic’ attack

Following his sentencing the former Empire star said: "I did not do this!".

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: WGN News

Jussie Smollett has been jailed for 150 days over a hoax homophobic attack he alleges took place in 2019.

The former Empire actor, 39, who is gay, reported in January 2019 that he had been attacked by two men who had used racial and homophobic slurs against him, tied a noose around his neck, and used a chemical substance on him.

Delivering his verdict on Thursday (10 March) Judge James Linn called Smollett a “charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime,” which he said was “shameful”. 

“I did not do this!”

After the sentence was read out in court Smollett said: “I did not do this!”.

As he left the court he said: “I am innocent, and I am not suicidal. If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBTQ community. Your honour, I respect you and I respect the jury. But I did not do this.”

He continued: “If anything happens to me when I go in there I did not do it to myself.”

In February 2019, Smollett was charged with filing a false police report to which he pleaded not guilty before all charges were dropped. 

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. Smollett was also dropped from Empire’s fifth season.

In October, the actor made a request to have the case thrown out but this was dismissed by a judge.

Last December, brothers Ola and Abimbola Osundairo, from Nigeria, told a court they had been paid $3,500 to carry out the attack, which Smollet denied. However, a jury found him guilty on five out of six counts of disorderly conduct. 

Smollett maintained that there was no “hoax” in response to the prosecution’s argument he had hired two brothers to carry out the attack in part to raise his profile as he was unhappy with his Empire salary.

Thursday’s sentence also includes 30 months of probation with the first 150 days in jail starting immediately. Smollett must also pay $145,000 (£110,000) in restitution and fines.

Attitude’s new-look March/April issue is out now.