Empire star Jussie Smollett takes stand in own defense: 'There was no hoax'
Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett took the stand today in his own defense.
Smollett, an openly gay Black actor, is charged with six counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports to investigators in January 2019 after telling police he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
Prosecutors allege that Smollett staged a hate crime to get media attention and paid $3,500 to two brothers, Abimbola "Bola" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, to help him pull it off.
During his testimony, Smollett said the money was for a fitness plan so he could get fit for an upcoming music video, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"There was no hoax," Smollett told the jury, the Tribune reports.
"My character was a superstar, a pop star, a beloved GQ whatever," he said. "It was very important that I looked like Black Cary Grant, not beat down."
Smollett testified that he became friends with Abimbola after the two met at a club during Season 4 of Empire. Smollett told the jury that the two men went to a bathhouse, did some drugs and were intimate.
"There was some touching," he said, according to the Tribune.
Smollett said they went to the bathhouse again on another occasion and masturbated next to each other, the Tribune reports.
In testimony last week, Abimbola denied that he had a sexual relationship with the actor.
Smollett also told the jury that he didn't trust Abimbola's brother, Olabinjo.
"He kind of creeped me out," he testified, CNN reported. "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."
"He wasn't feeling me, it's fine," he said. "Who is he to me? It's fine."
Abimbola testified last week that Smollett texted him on Jan. 25, 2019, saying, "Might need your help on the low."
Abimbola said, "[Smollett] explained that he wanted me to fake beat him up," CBS2 reported.
He said he agreed "because I felt indebted to Jussie," CBS2 reported. "He also got me a stand-in role on Empire, and I believed he could further my acting career."
Smollett allegedly told police that he was walking home when two masked men, one wearing a red hat, shouted racial slurs, attacked him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him.
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Smollett was originally indicted in March 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct but the charges were dropped.
"After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said in a statement.
The case against him was later revived by a special prosecutor, Dan Webb, and in early 2020, Smollett was once again charged with disorderly conduct. The indictment against the actor alleges he "knew at the time … there was no reasonable ground for believing that such an offense had been committed" when he told police he'd been assaulted by "two unknown offenders."
This story originally appeared on people.com