Jussie Smollett arrives on November 29, 2021, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for jury selection at his trial in Chicago.AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Jussie Smollett testified Monday at his criminal trial over accusations that he staged a hate crime against himself.
He said he previously did drugs and “made out” with one of the men authorities say he hired to attack him.
Smollett has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has maintained that he was assaulted in 2019.
Jussie Smollett took the witness stand on Monday at his criminal trial over accusations that he staged a hate crime against himself to gain publicity, saying that he previously did drugs and “made out” at a bathhouse with one of the men authorities say he hired to attack him.
The 39-year-old ex-“Empire” actor testified in his own defense on day five of the high-profile trial in an attempt to demonstrate that he was actually a victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago in the early morning hours of January 29, 2019.
Smollett, who is Black and openly gay, is standing trial at Chicago’s Leighton Criminal Courthouse on six counts of disorderly conduct for accusations that he falsely reported to police that he was the victim of an assault.
In 2019, Smollett told police he was jumped by two men in ski masks in downtown Chicago at around 2 a.m. who yelled racist and homophobic slurs and shouted a reference to then-President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.
He also told investigators that the men doused him with bleach, put a noose around his neck and beat him.
But weeks after Smollett made the report, the Chicago Police Department announced that Smollett was being charged with felony disorderly conduct, accusing him of faking the attack in order to promote his career.
Smollett has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has maintained from day one that he was, in fact, assaulted.
Police said Smollett hired two brothers from Nigeria, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo — who previously took the witness stand at the trial — and paid them $3,500 to stage the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary on “Empire.”
Smollett said on the witness stand Monday that in 2017 he met Abimbola Osundairo at a club and found out he also worked on the “Empire” set, according to the Associated Press.
Smollett told jurors that he and Abimbola Osundairo did drugs together and went to a bathhouse in the Chicago neighborhood of Boystown where Smollett claimed they “made out,” the AP reported.
“I always have weed on me … well, not now,” Smollett testified, according to CBS Chicago. “And he [Abimbola Osundairo] had the cocaine.”
Smollett also testified that he wrote the $3,500 check for a nutrition and work-out plan — and not for payment to the Osundairo brothers to help stage an attack, the AP reported.
According to Smollett, Abimbola Osundairo told him about a herbal steroid for weight loss that was illegal in the US that Abimbola Osundairo said he could get Smollett “on the low” during a trip to Nigeria.
The Osundairo brothers each testified at the trial last week, explaining to jurors how Smollett compensated them and directed them to carry out the attack.
Abimbola Osundairo, who told jurors that he never had a sexual relationship with Smollett, testified that days before the 2019 incident, Smollett texted him about needing help “on the low” to stage the attack, the AP reported.
“He explained that he wanted me to fake beat him up,” Abimbola Osundairo testified, according to the Chicago Tribune. “He told me that we would need another person to fake beat him up and he mentioned could my brother do it? I said yes.”
Abimbola Osundairo told jurors that he agreed because he felt he owed something to Smollett for getting him a stand-in role on “Empire” and believed that Smollett could help with his acting career, according to the news outlet.
Smollett’s defense attorney’s have said that Smollett was a “real victim” of a “real crime,” that the Osundairo brothers made up a lie about Smollett staging the attack and that they asked Smollett for $1 million each to not testify against him at trial.
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