Jussie Smollett has been formally charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report about the attack he’d said was perpetrated against him in Chicago last month.
While the police initially investigated the attack against Smollett as a hate crime, the Chicago Tribune reports that police redirected their efforts to Smollett himself after two brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, testified that they had been paid $3,000—by Smollett— to stage the assault. Prior to that, police had been having difficulties corroborating Smollett’s story, thanks to limited surveillance footage, no witnesses, and heavily redacted phone records delivered to police 13 days after the assault.
Smollett has vehemently denied that he had a hand in the incident, which involved two men hitting him, tying a noose around his neck and yelling “This is MAGA country,” in addition to racial and homophobic slurs.
In a statement, Smollett acknowledged for the first time that he knew the brothers, and that one of them was his personal trainer. The two also reportedly worked together on the Empire set:
“Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” read the statement from his attorneys. “He has been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth.”
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”
If convicted, Smollett could face up to three years in prison.