'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett has been convicted of staging a homophobic, racist attack on himself and lying to the Chicago Police. The incident, which had taken place in 2019, had generated a lot of heat, polarizing the political landscape, at a time when the BLM movement was gaining momentum.
The actor had reportedly hired two brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, and paid them $3200 for staging the attack. The brothers confessed to the court saying that Smollett had given them money to buy supplies and had asked them to hit him "but not too hard".
Smollett had said that the two had yelled slurs at him, put a noose around his neck, and had shouted "This is MAGA country." The police had aggressively investigated the case and had concluded that it was a hoax in just three weeks.
Smollett's attorneys, however, accused the brothers of making up the story about the attack being staged, to get money from Smollett, and also claimed that the Osundiaros had said they wouldn't testify against him, only if Smollett paid them $1 million each. They said they had attacked the actor because they were homophobic and didn't like "who he was", according to Associated Press.
The jury reached their verdict in nine hours, spread over a period of two days, after hearing testimonies from several witnesses, which led to the actor getting convicted on five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct.
Calling the verdict "a resounding message by the jury that Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did" which was recruiting the two brothers to fake an attack so it could be recorded, a prosecutor called the entire act publicity stunt.
Smollett's conduct charge is a class 4 felony that carries a prison sentence of up to three years. Although, experts believe that the actor would likely be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
Smollett has maintained that the incident he had reported against was true and that any claims of the attack being staged were "100% false".