Jussie Smollett Has Been Charged With a Felony

Illustration for article titled Jussie Smollett Has Been Charged With a Felony
Image: Getty

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.


If the allegations are true (and I find myself oddly agnostic, here), this is a terrible thing for someone to do even if only selfishly (to him or herself). One would be opening oneself up to blackmail for the rest of one’s life, to fear that this secret would emerge, to extreme remorse in the future. I have some darkish secrets in my past and they prevent me from being as fully transparent in my daily life as I would like. Why would someone consciously choose this path?

But I also understand that when we become obsessed with an objective, we don’t necessarily think things through; in fact, it may be impossible to do so. Obsession is, by its very nature, urgent and minutely focused. It leads us to places that would shock our more rational selves.