Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was convicted Thursday on charges he staged an anti-gay, racist attack on himself nearly three years ago and then lied to Chicago police about it.
The jury found the 39-year-old guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct — for each separate time he was charged with lying to police in the days immediately after the alleged attack.
But Smollett was acquitted on a sixth count, of lying to a detective in the weeks after the actor said he was attacked.
That count referred to when Smollett allegedly told Chicago police detective Robert Graves that he’d been a victim of an aggravated battery on Feb. 14, 2019, approximately two weeks after the alleged attack, according to prosecutors.
Contrarily, the first five counts of which Smollett was convicted were related to statements the former "Empire" actor made to police on Jan. 29, in the immediate aftermath.
Speaking at a news conference following the verdict, special prosecutor Dan Webb said he didn't want to draw conclusions about why the jury acquitted Smollett on the sixth charge.
Since the five other counts were related to reports made in the immediate hours after the attack, not two weeks later, Webb pointed out the dates could've potentially played a part in the acquittal.
Expressing satisfaction with the jury's decision, the special prosecutor said the sixth count "wasn't that significant to our case. It has no impact on the case whatsoever."
Outside court, Webb called the verdict “a resounding message by the jury that Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did.”
Smollett “wreaked havoc here in the city for weeks on end for no reason whatsoever,” then compounded the problem by lying under oath to the jury, the special prosecutor said.
Judge James Linn set a post-trial hearing for Jan. 27, and said he would schedule Smollett’s sentencing at a later date. Disorderly conduct is a class 4 felony that carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if convicted, Smollett would likely be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
The jury deliberated for just over nine hours Wednesday and Thursday after a roughly one-week trial in which two brothers testified that Smollett recruited them to fake the attack near his home in downtown Chicago in January 2019. They said Smollett orchestrated the hoax, telling them to put a noose around his neck and rough him up in view of a surveillance camera, and that he said he wanted video of the hoax made public via social media.
Smollett testified that he was the victim of a real hate crime, telling jurors “there was no hoax.” He called the brothers “liars” and said the $3,500 check he wrote them was for meal and workout plans. His attorneys argued that the brothers attacked the actor — who is gay and Black — because they are homophobic and didn’t like “who he was.” They also alleged the brothers made up the story about the attack being staged to get money from Smollett, and that they said they wouldn’t testify against him if Smollett paid them each $1 million.