A Cook County judge delivered a stunning rebuke of former Empire actor Jussie Smollett ahead of his sentencing hearing Thursday, telling Smollett "you destroyed your life as you knew it" when he faked a hate crime in 2019 and lied to police about what transpired.
Cook County Judge James Linn addressed Smollett with a reprimand before the actor was sentenced to 150 days in jail and 30 months probation following a conviction of five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police about the staged hate crime.
"You turned your life upside down by your misconduct and shenanigans," the judge stated. "There's nothing that any sentencing judge can do to you that would compare to the damage you've already caused yourself."
Linn provided insight about Smollett's upbringing, describing his family as one that stood for social justice, stating the actor "grew up knowing to be sensitive to matters about racial discrimination, any kind of discrimination, any kind of social injustice."
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"For you to now sit here, convicted of hoaxing hate crimes, racial hate crimes and homophonic hate crimes, the hypocrisy is just astounding," he said.
So why did the hoax happen, Linn asked, saying it's the question on everyone's mind.
"You knew this was a country that was slowing trying to heal past injustices and current injustices and trying to make a better future for each other," he said. "...And it was a hard road...You took some scabs off some healing wounds, and you ripped them apart for one reason - you wanted to make yourself more famous, and for a while it worked."
While Linn acknowledged there are giving, charitable and loving parts of Smollett, he said there's another part of the actor that's profoundly arrogant, selfish and narcisistic.
"...That bad side of you came out during the course of all these events," he said.
As the sentenced was handed down a visibly emotional Smollett said while he respects Linn, he "did not do this" and remains innocent.
"If I did this and it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fingers of the LGBTQ community," the actor said.
More coverage of Smollett's sentencing can be found here.