Jussie Smollett has been arrested on suspicion of filing a false police report, reported the Gay Times.
On January 29, the Empire star claimed he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack, where two attackers placed a noose around his neck and poured an unknown substance over him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs.
However, new evidence suggests Smollett paid brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were considered “potential suspects” before being released, to stage the attack. Both worked on Empire as extras and one was Smollett’s personal trainer.
Thursday morning (February 21), Smollett was arrested after turning himself in for “Disorderly Conduct in Falsifying a Police report.” If convicted, he could receive up to a three-year prison sentence.
UPDATE: Chicago Police Detectives take #Empire actor #JussieSmollett into custody to face Class 4 Felony charge (punishable for up to 3yrs in prison) for Disorderly Conduct in Falsifying Police report. Bond Hearing scheduled for 1:30p in Cook County Criminal Court.#ChicagoPolice
— Tom Ahern (@TomAhernCPD) February 21, 2019
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said Smollett paid the two men $3,500 to orchestrate the attack to promote his career.
According to the AJC, Johnson also said Smollett sent a racist and homophobic threatening letter to the Fox studio lot where he works.
“Bogus police reports cause real harm,” he added. “I am offended by what’s happened and I’m also angry. As far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on [Smollett’s] face were most likely self-inflicted.”
According to Queerty. texts between Smollett and Abimbola were read aloud during his bond hearing Thursday. The day after prosecutors say Smollett received the threatening letter that he allegedly sent himself, he texted Abimbola, “Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?”
Smollett and his lawyers deny him having any role in the attack.
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” his attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
Smollett reportedly hasn’t made any statements since being taken in for questioning.
GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, and Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, issued a joint statement saying they don’t want Jussie’s arrest to overshadow the “very real” problem of hate violence in America.
“As we learn more details about Jussie’s arrest, we remain focused on the urgent fight against the very real issues of racism, homophobia, and hate violence,” said the statement. “FBI data shows that hate crimes are on the rise nationwide and that fact cannot get lost in the discussion around Jussie’s arrest.”
According to date released by the FBI in 2018, reported hate crimes nationwide rose 17 percent last year. The severity of hate violence against LGBTQ people is also increasing as well, according to the Anti-Violence Project. 46 percent of LGBTQ survivors of hate violence sustained an injury in 2017 compared to 31 percent in 2016, 42 percent reported seeking medical attention in 2017 compared to 23 percent in 2016, and 27 percent reported that weapons were used in 2017 compared to 13 percent in 2016.
“While Jussie’s situation is troubling and concerning,” the statement continued, “anyone who is a victim of hate violence should never be hesitant to speak out and share their stories.”