Celebrity News March 12, 2022
Jussie Smollett Believes He's in Jail 'Because I'm Black' — Report
Jury Reaches Guilty Verdict in Jussie Smollett TrialView Story
Jussie Smollett, who was sentenced to 150 days behind bars last week in his faked hate crime case, believes the reason he was sentenced to prison time boils down to his race.
TMZ reports a source close to the former "Empire" actor says that he had correctly predicted to his defense team that he would be given a relatively harsh sentence. His reasoning? Even though most white people convicted of committing nonviolent crimes get lenient sentences, Smollett reportedly thinks he had the book thrown at him simply because he is Black.
The entire case involved race: Smollett was sentenced Thursday for his role in staging a phony hate crime against himself in 2019.
Jussie Smollett Sentenced in Hoax Case: 'I Am Not Suicidal'View Story
Judge James Linn was unsympathetic toward Smollett during sentencing, explaining the severity of the sentence by calling out Smollett's "extreme" premeditation of the crime, noting that it denigrated the realities of actual victims of hate crimes. He called Smollett a liar and "charalatan," going on to say, "You got on the witness stand. You didn't have to. You did. You certainly had a right to. But you committed hour upon hour upon hour of perjury."
Along with prison, Smollett was sentenced by Linn to 30 months of probation, and $25,000 in fines. He’ll also have to pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago.
Many pointed out that Smollett did himself no favors by steadfastly refusing to admit to wrongdoing, even in the face of persuasive evidence. He was convicted on five of six charges against him.
Following the sentencing, Smollett pulled down his mask, dramatically stating, "I am not suicidal. That's what I would like to say. I am not suicidal. I am not suicidal. I am innocent, and I am not suicidal."
He went on to say, "If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBTQ community. Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this and I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself, and you must all know that. I respect you, your honor, I respect your decision — jail time... I am not suicidal."
TMZ reports that Smollett's cell will be monitored by cameras, and by an officer with a body cam.
After his sentencing, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office released a statement, saying, “Like all individuals ordered into custody at the [Cook County] Jail, Mr. Smollett will be given a comprehensive medical and mental health assessment… a security assessment, and will be placed in appropriate housing,” adding, that a series of COVID protocols would be followed.
Smollett had claimed "there was no hoax" at his trial. Jussie walked the court through what he said happened as he walked home from a Subway restaurant in Chicago the night of the incident. He said he heard someone yell, “'Empire'!” and “F----- ‘Empire’ n-----!”
Speaking of the alleged assailant, Smollett said, “This person felt significantly larger than me. They were dressed in dark clothes, a ski mask, and I could only see [their eyes].” He went on, “I would like to think I landed a punch, but I know that I certainly threw one.”
The prosecutors claimed Jussie actually paid brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo to “fake beat him up.” The defense says the men really did attack Smollett, while acknowledging Jussie knew the brothers and had a sexual relationship with Abimbola.
While on the stand, Jussie also explained some key points in the case, including claiming a $3,500 check gave to the brothers was not to pay for the attack but for coaching and training services.
He said texts about something “on the low” were actually about an illegal herbal steroid Abimbola had offered to get him to help him lose weight.
Reflecting on how he knew the brothers, Smollett said he met Abimbola at a nightclub in 2017 and they had done drugs together and spent time together at a gay bathhouse.
Abimbola, however, testified that he was heterosexual and did not have a sexual relationship with the actor. He did confirm they had visited the spa together.
When Jussie was asked if Olabinjo knew about his relationship with Abimbola, he said he didn’t believe so.
Even though Smollett is behind bars, many of his family members are still sticking by his side. Post-sentencing, his sister Jazz Smollett told reporters, "My brother Jussie is innocent. This should not be a controversial statement because it is the absolute truth."
His sister Jurnee proclaimed his innocence on Instagram, arguing he should be freed even if he is guilty:
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But Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who — like many — had initially believed Smollett's account of his alleged assault but came to realize he had lied, agreed with the judge's ruling, saying in a statement, "The criminal conviction of Jussie Smollett by a jury of his peers and today's sentencing should send a clear message to everyone in the City of Chicago that false claims and allegations will not be tolerated. The malicious and wholly fabricated claim made by Mr. Smollett resulted in over 1500 hours of police work that cost the City over $130,000 in police overtime. The City feels vindicated in today's ruling that he is being held accountable and that we will appropriately receive restitution for his actions."