Actor Jussie Smollett found guilty of staging fake hate crime to raise his celebrity profile

WION Web Team
NEW DELHIUpdated: Dec 10, 2021, 10:20 AM IST
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Actor Jussie Smollett, one-time star of the TV drama “Empire,” was found guilty on Thursday of staging a hate crime against himself in what prosecutors said was a bid to gain sympathy and boost his career.

Jussie Smollett, the Empire actor, was found guilty of fabricating a hate crime against himself in order to boost his celebrity status.

Smollett was convicted guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct by a Chicago jury after more than nine hours of debate.

In mid-February, weeks after Smollett claimed he was attacked, he was acquitted on a sixth count of lying to a detective.

The allegations against Smollett, who is Black and homosexual, had become a flashpoint in America's culture wars, where culture, racism, politics, and fame collide. 

When Smollett first claimed in January 2019 that he had been attacked by people shouting "This is Maga country," a reference to Donald Trump's signature campaign slogan "Make America Great Again," several celebrities rallied to his side.

Watch | 'I will always stand for love,' says Jussie Smollett in a Los Angeles performance post-racial attack

Smollett informed police that he was assaulted by two masked guys on a darkened roadway.

Smollett claims that his assailants tied him up and poured chemicals on him while chanting racist and homophobic obscenities and showing their support for Trump. 

However, police arrested Smollett himself a month later, accusing him of paying two brothers $3,500 to orchestrate the assault in order to gain public sympathy and improve his showbiz career.

Prosecutors called the evidence against Smollett "overwhelming," claiming that what he did in January 2019 prompted Chicago police to expend excessive time and resources. 

(With inputs from agencies)