Jussie Smollett found guilty of faking homophobic, racist hate crime against himself

Jussie Smollett arrives in court

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of staging a racist, homophobic hate crime against himself.

According to Deadline, Smollett was found guilty of five charges of disorderly conduct after a jury deliberated for more that nine hours at Chicago’s Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

The actor had claimed that he was the victim of a hate crime on the night of 29 January 2018, when he was attacked by two men in ski masks, who shouted homophobic, racist slurs while beating him and looping a makeshift noose around his neck.

Police initially investigated his claims as genuine, but evidence soon surfaced which suggested the “hate crime” may have been staged, with Smollett paying Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, brothers who had worked on Empire as extras, to carry it out.

While Jussie Smollett’s defence tried to undermine the brothers at trial, suggesting one had a sexual relationship with Smollett and the other was homophobic, special prosecutor Dan Webb that Smollett had “denigrated something as serious as a hate crime” because he was unsatisfied with his salary on Empire.

Following the jury’s guilty verdict, Webb told reporters: “During my closing argument, I told the jury that I though the evidence was overwhelming; that, in fact, Mr Smollett had faked the hate crime, and then lied to the police about it, and then compounded his crimes by lying to the jury during the course of this trial, and insulting their intelligence.

“With the resounding verdict that we just received from this jury, after one day of deliberations, in which they found Mr Smollett guilty of virtually all charges of doing exactly what we said he did, of reporting a fake crime to the Chicago Police Department as a real crime.”

He added: “This jury worked so hard, and for Mr Smollett to get up in front of them and lie for hours and hours and hours, that really compounded his misconduct… Defendants have a right to go to trial. Defendants have a right to argue that their case has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

“But defendants do not have the right to go in front of a jury and lie under oath. Mr Smollett would not have lost his case as he did today, unless the jury found that he lied to them.”

Jussie Smollett maintains his innocence and plans to appeal

Jussie Smollett now awaits sentencing. Each of his disorderly conduct felony charges carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine, but experts have suggested that Smollett would serve his time through probation and community service.

His defence attorney Nenye Uche told press that the jury’s verdict was “inconsistent”, and said that Smollett planned to appeal, adding: “You can’t say Jussie is lying and say Jussie is not lying for the same exact incidents.

“We feel 100 per cent confident that this case will be won on appeal. Unfortunately, that’s not a route we wanted, but sometimes that’s the route you have to take to win.”

The actor faces a further civil lawsuit against him by the City of Chicago, which is seeking $130,000 for the thousands of hours of police time and resources that went into the hate crime investigation.