Smollett testifies racist, anti-gay attack on him was 'no hoax'

Smollett was an actor on TV show "Empire"

Updated: December 6, 2021 - 5:23pm

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Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett testified Monday at his trial in which he is facing charges for allegedly staging a racist, anti-gay attack on himself, saying the incident was "no hoax."

Smollett is charged with lying to Chicago police about the attack and testified in an effort to refute damaging testimony last week from brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, allegedly hired to participate in the incident. 

They said Smollett, who is gay and black, orchestrated the January 2019 hoax to get publicity. The brothers also allege Smollett paid them with a $3,500 check and gave them $100 for supplies and instructing them to place a noose around his neck and yell homophobic slurs, according to the Associated Press.

Smollett said he wrote the check for nutrition and training advice from Abimbola Osundairo, not as payment for him and his brother to carry out the attack.

Asked by his defense attorney whether he gave Osundairo payment for some kind of hoax, Smollett replied, "Never." He also said "absolutely not" when asked whether he gave the brothers the $100 to pay for supplies for the hoax.

Osundairo testified that Smollett sent him a text message, which the jury saw last week, in which Smollett asked him about helping to stage the attack. Smollett said Monday the message was in reference to the illegal steroid.

Defense attorneys have suggested the brothers were motivated to accuse Smollett of staging the hoax because they disliked him and then saw an opportunity to make money. They suggested that after the brothers were questioned by police about the alleged attack, they asked Smollett for $1 million each to not testify against him at trial, the wire service also reports.

Smollett's lawyers also have argued that Chicago police rushed to judgment when they brought charges against their client.

Smollett told the jury he met Abimbola Osundairo in 2017 and that they did drugs together and went to a bathhouse, where Smollett said they "made out." Over time, he said the two men did more drugs and participated in sex acts together.

Osundairo testified last week that he and Smollett didn’t have a sexual relationship.

Prosecutors say Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with the "Empire" studio's response to hate mail he received. The letter including a drawing of a stick figure hanging by a noose, with a gun pointed at it, and the word "MAGA," an apparent reference to then-President Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

The Osundairo brothers testified that Smollett told them to yell "this is MAGA country" during the fake assault, also according to the Associated Press.

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