Jussie Smollett Hate Crime Hoax Trial Begins in Chicago

Jussie Smollett speaks to reports on March 26, 2019, after prosecutors drop charges against him. (Credit: YouTube/Fox News)

Jussie Smollett is headed to trial in Chicago nearly three years after he was accused of staging a hate crime attack.

Jury selection begins Monday in the trial, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to USA Today

The Empire actor is charged with felony disorderly conduct for saying he was the victim of a hate crime attack on Jan. 29, 2019, while walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at 2 a.m.

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The actor was originally charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report before the Cook County State Attorney’s Office dropped the charges. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx 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 filled, including six counts of making false reports to the Chicago Police Department.

Smollett claimed two masked men put a noose around his neck and doused him with a chemical, while using racial and homophobic slurs. After investigating, Chicago police later alleged he staged the attack. 

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The Office of the Special Prosecutor found the belongings of brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who prosecutors said were the two men who helped Smollett pull off the hoax.

The two brothers issued a statement through their attorney several weeks after the attack saying they “regret” taking part in the hoax.

Smollett’s legal team is defending him on the grounds of double jeopardy — that he cannot be charged with the same crime twice.

Last year, Smollett told a TMZ photographer “I am innocent” at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The actor is additionally being sued in a civil case by the city of Chicago for $130,000 to recoup costs of the police investigation and legal fees.