Jussie Smollett, the former Empire and Alien: Covenant actor accused of staging a fake hate crime to boost his career, took the stand in his criminal trial on Monday to declare that “there was no hoax.”
Prosecutors in the trial believe that Jussie Smollett’s testimony is far from the true, and the men who are accused of attacking him claim that they were paid to fake the attack to increase the actors public attention.
After news broke that the two alleged assailants said it was a hoax, Jussie was let go from the hit television show Empire, when his character was sent to rehab for a painkiller addiction, never to return.
He is being tried for filing a false police report, despite claiming that he had nothing to do with what happened to him during the attack.
“They yelled f**** Empire n****,” Jussie Smollett said, and then punched him hard in the left eye. He said that the attack lasted only around 15-20 seconds, and that they also screamed “this is MAGA country.”
Abimbola Osundairo, one of the two men alleged to have been part of the attack, recently revealed this week that the two had known each other previously. He testified that he and his brother were paid $3,500 to stage the attack, which would put Jussie Smollett’s name in the news as a sympathetic victim of a homophobic hate crime.
Osundairo, who was a background actor on the set of Empire, claimed that the two had once kissed at a club and later began working as Jussie Smollett’s physical trainer.
“We went alone this time and got a private room and did drugs and masturbated together,” Jussie Smollett testified on Tuesday, confirming their relationship. He added that he had also met Osundairo’s brother, Olabinjo, but that he “didn’t trust him.”
“He kind of creeped me out,” Jussie Smollett said. “Every time we were around him, he didn’t speak to me. Every time we needed to leave, he made it seem like we needed to sneak off.”
Smollett continued to deny that he paid his associates to stage the attack, however, despite their previous, working and romantic relationships.
“Did you talk to him about some hoax?” asked defense attorney Nenye Uche. “No,” Smollett answered.
“Did you give him the check as payment for some silly hoax?” Uche followed up. “Never,” Smollett said.
Abimbola Osundairo told the criminal jury that he agreed to help Jussie when he proposed the hoax, saying that he felt “indebted” to his “close friend.”
The defense team, in searching for potential reasons as to why the brothers would claim they were paid to perform the attack and oust themselves as the attackers, claimed that they may have been attempting to convince Jussie to hire them as needed security.
He said that a “hate letter” was sent to him in the mail at the Chicago Empire television studio seven days before the attack. He claimed that Osundairo then asked him if he would be interested in having him be his personal security guard.
Osundairo denied the accusation, testifying that he was an aspiring actor on the set on Empire, and had no interest in security detail.
The actor also faced scrutiny over his decision not to hand over a complete list of his cellphone records prior to the attack, only giving investigators a PDF of select, screened calls.
Jussie Smollett faces up to three years in prison for filing a false police report, though many legal analysts believe he will receive far less since no one was seriously hurt.