Trial for U.S. Actor Jussie Smollett on Hate Crime Hoax Charges Begins

The trial of American actor Jussie Smollett on charges that he fabricated a hate crime against himself began on Nov. 29 in Chicago.

Smollett, 39, faces six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making a false report to the police that he was a victim of a racist, homophobic attack.

In January 2019, Smollett told police that two men attacked him with a noose and shouted pro-Trump slogans while he was walking home in the middle of the night.

Weeks later, authorities accused Smollett of orchestrating the attack to gain publicity and secure a bigger paycheck because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the TV show “Empire.”

Cook County prosecutors eventually dropped the original charges against Smollett in March 2019, but a new indictment began in February 2020 by a grand jury in the county.

In his opening statement at the trial, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb alleged that Smollett hired two acquaintances — Nigerian-born brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo — to carry out the attack.

Web further alleged that Smollett sent himself a threatening letter that contained homophobic and racial slurs.

Smollett has pleaded not guilty.

It is unclear if Smollett will testify, but it is expected that the Osundairo brothers will take the stand.

If convicted, Smollett faces up to three years in prison.

Judge James Lim said that the trial is expected to last a week.

Earlier in the day, 15 jurors were selected to hear the case.

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