Actor Jussie Smollett’s Chicago trial on charges that he faked a hate crime attack on himself three years ago begins Monday with jury selection.
Smollett, 39, was a star of the television show “Empire” when he claimed he was attacked on January 29, 2019, by two men who hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him and left a noose around his neck.
Two brothers who worked as extras on “Empire” later came forward and said Smollett had paid them to “attack” him, and prosecutors charged the actor. But in March, Cook County Prosecutor Kim Foxx dropped all the charges against him in return for community service and forfeiture of his bond, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
An outcry against that action prompted the appointment of a special prosecutor, who indicted Smollett on six disorderly conduct charges related to the incident but did not find that Foxx or her office acted in a criminal manner. Former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb’s full report was sealed and has not been released.
The charges against Smollett, whose character was written out of “Empire” after the incident, are misdemeanors carrying a maximum sentence of three years, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
According to the Tribune, prosecutors said that Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with how the television studio handled a purportedly racist letter containing a white powder that the actor received — only for officials to say that Smollett mailed that letter to himself because he wanted a raise.
Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, the brothers who allegedly staged the attack, are expected to be key witnesses against Smollett during the trial.
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[Featured image: FILE Actor Jussie Smollet in court in 2019 in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)]