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Trial of actor Jussie Smollett, accused of faking hate crime, goes to jury -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Jussie, an ex-Empire actor, arrives in court for the first day of his six count disorderly conduct charge on suspicion that he made false police reports. This was taken in Chicago, Illinois. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczy

By Brendan O’Brien

CHICAGO, (Reuters) – The jury started deliberations Wednesday on actor Jussie Stullett’s trial. He is accused of orchestrating a hate attack against himself in order to increase his fame.

An actor who is Black and gay faces six felonies of disorderly conduct charges in Cook County Circuit Court. The allegations stem from false reporting to police.

Smollett, aged 39, denied the fake attack. He pleaded guilty to not guilty in February 2020. According to NBC, he testified before the jury this week that there was “no hoax.”

It was the starting point in the cultural wars that were enflamed under Donald Trump’s presidency.

When Smollett first accused him of being a victim to a hate crime in 2019, celebrities and other people rushed to help. He claimed that the attackers shouted, “This is MAGA Country,” which was a reference Trump’s signature slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Smollett claimed that two unidentified men approached him in a darkened alleyway and that they had raped him. Smollett says that the assailants tied a noose to his neck, poured chemicals onto him and shouted homophobic and racist slurs.

Police arrested Smollett a month later. He was accused of having paid his brothers $3,500 for the staging of an attack. This hoax was intended to gain public sympathy and raise his showbiz profile.

Smollett’s Monday testimony contradicted that of Olabinjo Osundairo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo. They had previously testified last week that Smollett had paid them for a phony attack.

Smollett’s acting career is now in decline since that incident. Smollett lost his position as singer-songwriter on the last season of Empire, a Fox hip-hop drama which ended its five-year-old run in 2020.

The spring 2019 saw his case take an unexpected twist when the Cook County attorney dropped the 16-count indictment against he in exchange for Smollett forfeiting $10,000 without admitting wrongdoing.

Rahm Emanuel (then-Mayor) and the police superintendent of the city criticized the decision to dismiss Smollett. After a five-month investigation, it was determined that Smollett should be prosecuted.

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