Actor takes the stand, denies ‘hoax’


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Nearly three years after Jussie Smollett reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack, the ex-“Empire” actor took the witness stand Monday at his trial to defend himself against charges of staging a hoax. 

Smollett began testifying about his account of what happened in January 2019 in an attempt to refute damaging testimony from two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who testified last week as the state’s star witnesses. The brothers said Smollett orchestrated a hoax to get publicity, giving them $100 for supplies and instructing them to place a noose around his neck and yell homophobic slurs. They also said Smollett paid them $3,500 to carry it out.

Asked by his defense attorney if he gave Abimbola Osundairo payment for some kind of hoax, Smollett replied on the stand: “Never.”

“There was no hoax,” Smollett said.

Defense attorneys have suggested the Osundairo brothers were motivated to accuse Smollett of staging the hoax because they disliked him and 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.

Smollett’s lawyers also have argued that Chicago police rushed to judgment when they brought charges against Smollett, and suggested a third person may have been involved in the attack.

Judge James Linn told jurors last week he expected they would begin deliberations no later than Tuesday.

Smollett, 39, is charged with felony disorderly conduct for what law enforcement and prosecutors believe was a false police report about the alleged attack. The Class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years in prison, but experts say if Smollett is convicted he likely would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service. 

Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for day three of his trial in Chicago on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.

Here is everything else that has happened during the trial so far.

Jussie Smollett timeline: A look back at the ex-‘Empire’ star’s alleged attack, hoax claims

Day 5: Jussie Smollett takes the stand

Smollett told the jury how he grew up in a close-knit family of six children and started performing as a child actor before getting more into music. He said he “came to terms with my sexuality” in his early 20s, when he got involved in charity organizations, including a group that fights AIDS in the Black community.

He said he auditioned for a role on “Empire” of a singer who is gay because he had never seen a Black man portrayed that way. By Season 5, Smollett said he was being paid $100,000 per episode. 

Now, he said, “I’ve lost my livelihood.”

Smollett said he met Abimbola Osundairo in 2017 at a club, where he learned Osundairo also worked on the set of “Empire.” He said the two men did drugs together and went to a bathhouse, where Smollett said they “made out.” Over time, he said the two men did more drugs together and participated in sex acts together. Abimbola…

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