The verdict is in and a Chicago jury says Jussie Smollett lied about being attacked in 2019.
On Thursday, jurors found the former Empire actor guilty on five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct, CNN reports. He was acquitted on one count.
The trial began last week with jurors listening to testimony about whether the former Empire star staged a homophobic, hate crime attack on Jan. 29, 2019 to gain attention. Jurors deliberated over nine hours on Wednesday and Thursday, before reaching their decision. Cook County Judge James Linn will hold a sentencing hearing at a later date.
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Once the guilty verdict was handed down, social media users chimed in on the closely-watched case.
@Wirjil tweeted: “People like #JussieSmollett make me sick b/c while they lie for personal gain, they also cause a huge damage to everyone else who actually faces racism and hate crimes. Shameful.”
Chef @Phillieschosen tweeted: “Being found guilty of committing your own hate crime is definitely interesting. #JussieSmollett.”
Actor Josh Jordan criticized politicians, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who supported Smollett when he initially said he was attacked. Jordan posted screenshots of the tweets from the politicos and wrote: “Jussie Smollett is a perfect example of why you don’t always have to rush out with hot takes when a story seems off. That Twitter 24 hour rule (or longer) should be the gold standard with stories like this because otherwise you look really silly. #JussieSmollett.”
Conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza also chimed in, tweeting: “Jussie Smollett said repeatedly that he would not be content until his attacker was brought to justice, and now finally he has #JussieSmollett.”
Entrepreneur Stacy Forrest tweeted: “Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of staging a hate crime. He tried his best but he lost the case. You win some, you lose some. I hope he doesn’t beat himself up over it.”
Smollett claimed two masked men — who turned out to be his friends Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo — put a noose around his neck and doused him with a chemical, while using racial and homophobic slurs. After investigating, Chicago police said Smollett tried to pull off an elaborate hoax.
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The Osundairo brothers testified that Smollett paid them $3,500 for the hoax and gave them lines to yell during the phony attack, including “MAGA country.”
On Monday, the actor took the witness stand and admitted having a sexual relationship with one of the men who helped him carry out the attack, but the 39-year-old actor insisted there was no truth to the police account saying the whole thing was a sham. “There was no hoax,” Smollett testified.
His lawyer announced plans to appeal the guilty verdict.
“Unfortunately we were facing an uphill battle where Jussie was already tried and convicted in the media and then we had to somehow get the jury to forget or unsee all the news stories that they had been hearing that were negative for the last three years,” Nenye Uche told reporters after the verdict.
As previously reported, Smollett was originally charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report before the Cook County State Attorney’s Office dropped the charges. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx later faced backlash for the way the case was handled.
Amid the controversy, special prosecutor and former United States Attorney Dan Webb was brought in to take over the case and new charges were filed, including six counts of making false reports to the Chicago Police Department.