A jury found former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett guilty Thursday of staging a hate crime hoax.
In early 2019, Smollett, who is gay and black, claimed two men accosted him in Chicago and carried out a racist and homophobic attack that included the use of bleach and a noose.
Countless liberal figures eventually accepted that account at face value, but the actor’s story quickly fell apart, with the two Nigerian brothers acknowledging that Smollett had paid them to fake the attack.
On Thursday, Smollett was found guilty on five of the six charges of disorderly conduct against him.
“He was found guilty of telling a police officer he was a hate crime victim, telling an officer he was a battery victim, telling a detective he was a hate crime victim, telling a detective he was a battery victim and then telling a detective again he was battery victim,” Fox News reported.
“He was not found guilty on a sixth charge of telling a second detective he was an aggravated battery victim,” the outlet added.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb praised the jury’s verdict.
“With the resounding verdict we just received from this jury after one day of deliberations in which they found Mr. Smollett guilty on virtually all charges of doing exactly what we said he did — reporting a fake crime to the Chicago Police Department as a real crime,” he told reporters. “That verdict was a resounding message by the jury that, in fact, Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did.”
Webb also highlighted the time police wasted investigating what turned out to be a hoax.
He said: “26 Chicago police officers spent 3000 hours of time, costing the city well over $100,000 for a fake crime that never occurred.”
“And, by the way, a fake crime that denigrates what a real hate crime is. And to use these meanings and symbols that are so abhorrent in our society it’s clear why the police would take it seriously. And they did.”
On juror told the Chicago Sun-Times said the jury took its time to make sure it got the verdict right.
“I just hope that [Smollett and his attorneys] know that we went in there with an open mind,” that juror said. “I listened to both sides. We wanted to make sure that those who had doubts didn’t feel pressured.”
As Fox reported, CNN and MSNBC downplayed the verdict.
“CNN pundit Brian Stelter’s media newsletter ‘Reliable Sources,’ oddly led with criticism of conservative media for pointing out that many liberal news organizations fell for Smollett’s hoax,” the outlet reported. “Instead of scolding reporters and analysts who bought Smollett’s story in the first place, CNN’s media industry newsletter frowned upon the organizations who did hold the liberal media accountable. ”
MSNBC’s website, meanwhile, claimed the conviction “will be used by Trump supporters to prove Democrats wrongly label them villains.”