Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett was convicted by a jury on five counts of disorderly conduct on Thursday over staging a hate crime against himself in 2019.
Smollett, 39, was indicted on six counts in 2019 after authorities investigating the celebrity’s claims of a brutally racist and homophobic attack found that the assault had been orchestrated by himself. According to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Smollett hired a pair of Nigerian brothers to stage a conditional attack that would later be treated as a virulent “hate crime,” earning the actor sympathy from politicians and media personalities.
“I come really, really hard against 45,” Smollett said in reference to then-President Donald Trump when explaining to ABC’s Robin Roberts why he felt he was attacked by two white men who screamed racial and homophobic slurs before they tied a noose around his neck and showered his skin with bleach, according to Smollett’s telling.
Robin Roberts: “Why do you think you were targeted?”
Smollett: “I come really really hard against 45. I come really really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue.” pic.twitter.com/jdfcroO1lL
— Jimmy (@JimmyPrinceton) February 17, 2019
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
What happened today to @JussieSmollett must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie. https://t.co/o8ilPu68CM
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 30, 2019
Smollett was only acquitted of one count of disorderly conduct, which referred to a report he gave to detective Robert Graves.
The five other counts on which Smollett was found guilty include telling Chicago Police Officer Muhammad Baig he had been victimized in a hate crime, telling the same officer he was a battery victim, making the same two claims to Officer Kimberly Murray, and making another battery claim to Murray the next evening.
Penalties for a single disorderly conduct charge ultimately remain under judicial discretion, but the crime is punishable with up to three years incarceration and a $25,000 fine.