Out actor Jussie Smollett on Monday told a Chicago courtroom that a racist, homophobic attack against him in 2019 “was no hoax.”
Smollett, who is black and came out gay in 2015, claims he was attacked on January 29, 2019 by two men in downtown Chicago. The men, he said, hurled racial and homophobic slurs and told Smollett that he was in “MAGA country.”
Prosecutors allege that Smollett staged the attack as a PR stunt.
Under cross-examination from special prosecutor Daniel Webb, Smollett said it was “fully false, 100 percent false” that he planned or paid anyone to stage the attack against him.
The 39-year-old actor is best known for playing Jamal Lyon on Fox's Empire.
Smollett said that the fallout from the attack led to the loss of his livelihood. He has not appeared on screen since.
Prosecutors claim that Smollett paid brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo $3,500 to stage the attack. The brothers testified last week that the actor paid them to carry out the attack.
Smollett faces six counts of disorderly conduct, punishable by up to three years in prison.
Webb took over the case after 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct were initially dropped, sparking questions as to whether Smollett had received preferential treatment.