A Chicago jury Thursday reached guilty verdicts on five of six charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of falsely reporting he was the victim of a disturbing, hate-fueled beating.
The panel, deliberating since Wednesday afternoon, weighed six counts of felony disorderly conduct against Smollett for telling police he was brutally assaulted on Jan. 29, 2019, at 2:45 a.m. in the Windy City’s Streeterville neighborhood.
The offenses are class 4 felonies and could be punishable by up to three years behind bars. But Smollett has a clean criminal record, making any jail time highly unlikely.
Smollett said he was attacked by two men, who punched him, kicked him, used racist and homophobic slurs, threw chemicals into his face, wrapped rope around his neck and even yelled out a slogan in support of then-President Donald Trump.
That initial report brought huge support for the actor, who is Black and gay. Even President Trump expressed sympathy for Smollett and decried the alleged attack, saying “That I can tell you is horrible. It doesn’t get worse.”
But the Chicago police investigation took a radical turn two weeks later when officers detained two Nigerian brothers at O’Hare International Airport in connection to the reported beating.
They were released and then on Feb. 21, 2019, Smollett was arrested as CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the actor’s story was a hoax aimed at advancing the defendant’s career.
Smollett, who played gay singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon on “Empire,” was written off the popular Fox musical drama.
Charges against Smollett were dropped in March, 2019, but the actor insisted he wasn’t lying and his team lashed out at police for accusing him of pulling a hoax.
The matter proved to be far from settled as the city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against the actor for money spent in the investigation.
The criminal case was renewed after a special prosecutor was appointed and a fresh set of indictments were handed up again against Smollett for allegedly concocting the hoax.
This is a developing story, please check back here for updates.