Jussie Smollett (Pic: Dominick D)
Empire star Jussie Smollett has angrily denied media reports that he was behind the recent attack against him that made global headlines.
According to CNN, police sources have told it that “Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month.”
Abimbola ‘Abel’ and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, who are brothers from Nigeria, were arrested last week as “potential suspects” in the attack. It’s understood that Smollett knows the men, one of whom worked as an extra on Empire.
The men were subsequently released without charges after they cooperated with police. It’s not known what the individuals told officers but Chicago Police said that what they learned was significant.
“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” said Chicago Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi. “We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
In response to the media claims that Smollet is suspected of being behind an apparent hoax, Guglielmi later tweeted: “While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident.”
On Saturday, Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, lashed out at the allegations against their client.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” they said.
Abimbola ‘Abel’ & Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo (Pic: Instagram)
“He has now 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 and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
On January 29, Smollett, 36, was allegedly attacked in Chicago at around 2am. He claims that two men wearing ski masks shouted homophobic and racist slurs at him. He was beaten in the face and had an unknown substance, possibly bleach, thrown onto him. The men also put a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene. Smollett was briefly hospitalised for minor injuries.
Questions have been asked about some alleged inconsistencies in Smollett’s account of the attack and his delay in providing police with complete phone records. Smollett has denied the claims and said that he only provided partial phone records to protect the privacy of other people.