Jussie Smollett Maintains Innocence After He's Jailed For 150 Days In Hoax Attack Case

The Empire star shouted "I am innocent" as he was led out of the courtroom.

Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 150 days in jail after a jury found he lied to police about a racist and homophobic attack.

The Empire actor’s sentence also includes 30 months of probation and $145,000 (£110,000) in restitution and fines.

The judge denied a request to suspend Smollett’s sentence and ordered he be placed in custody immediately.

As he was led out of the courtroom, the actor shouted: “I am innocent, and I am not suicidal.

“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 LGBT community.

“But I did not do this.”

Jussie Smollett is led out of the courtroom after being sentenced.
Jussie Smollett is led out of the courtroom after being sentenced.
Pool via Getty Images

The case made international headlines when Smollett, who is black and gay, reported to police that two men wearing ski masks beat him, and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him on a dark Chicago street and ran off.

In December, Smollett was convicted in a trial that included the testimony of two brothers who told jurors Smollett paid them to carry out the attack, gave them money for the ski masks and rope and instructed them to fashion the rope into a noose.

Prosecutors said he told them what racist and homophobic slurs to shout, and to yell that Smollett was in “MAGA Country”, a reference to the campaign slogan of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Smollett, who knew the men from his work on the television show Empire that filmed in Chicago, testified that he did not recognise them and did not know they were the men attacking him.

Cook County judge James Linn said he was astounded by Smollett’s actions given the actor’s multiracial family background and history working on behalf of social justice organisations.

“For you now to sit here, convicted of hoaxing, hate crimes… the hypocrisy is just astounding,” Mr Linn said.

Before Mr Linn handed down the sentence, Smollett’s defence attorney Nenye Uche asked Mr Linn to limit the sentence to community service. He said Smollett “has lost nearly everything” in his career and finances.

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett
Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

Smollett’s grandmother, testifying for the defence, asked Mr Linn not to include prison time in his sentence.

“I ask you, judge, not to send him to prison,” Molly Smollett, 92, told the court. She later added: “If you do, send me along with him, OK?”

Smollett’s brother, Joel Smollett Jr, told the court that Smollett is “not a threat to the people of Illinois. In my humble opinion he is completely innocent”.

Smollett’s attorneys also read aloud letters from other supporters, including an organiser with Black Lives Matter, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and LaTanya and Samuel L Jackson that asked Mr Linn to consider the case’s effect on Smollett’s life and career and to avoid any confinement as part of his sentence.

Other supporters spoke about worries that Smollett would be at risk in prison, specifically mentioning his race, sexual orientation and his family’s Jewish heritage.

Smollett faced up to three years in prison for each of the five felony counts of disorderly conduct — the charge filed for lying to police — of which he was convicted. He was acquitted on a sixth count.

But because Smollett does not have an extensive criminal history and the conviction is for a low-level nonviolent crime, experts did not expect him to be sent to prison.

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