Nearly three years ago, national media outlets began highlighting allegations by Black actor Jussie Smollett regarding a brutal assault by a pair of white attackers.
That supposed hate crime was subsequently revealed to be a hoax, however, and Smollett is finally on trial to face felony charges related to filing a false police report.
“Tremendous rush to judgment”
According to Deadline, the actor is facing six counts of felony disorderly conduct and could face up to three years behind bars if convicted.
Some reports signal that he will likely escape prison time completely and be placed on probation if a jury selected and seated this week determines that he is guilty.
Defense attorneys audaciously insisted that Smollett was “a real victim” in the case, citing a “tremendous rush to judgment” by Chicago police officers.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are expected to present loads of evidence revealing that the initial police report was a hoax that wasted the time and resources of local law enforcement.
In its coverage of the case, the Chicago Tribune wrote that the alleged hate crime was said to have occurred early on the morning of Jan. 29, 2019, as Smollett walked home from a sandwich shop.
Smollett’s claims fall apart
The purported assailants physically assaulted Smollett and placed a makeshift noose around his neck, he claimed at the time. They allegedly used homophobic and racial epithets, making references to their support for then-President Donald Trump.
Subsequent reports linked two Nigerian brothers to the scheme, whom Smollett allegedly paid $3,500 to stage the hate crime, apparently in a bid to earn a higher salary as a cast member on the series Empire.
Detective Michael Theis disputed the defense team’s allegation of a “rush to judgment,” testifying that at least two dozen detectives spent more than 3,000 hours investigating Smollett’s claims.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb, who took over the case after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped the charges against Smollett, argued that the hoax went above and beyond a normal crime, making it harder to believe the claims of actual hate crime victims.
The trial is expected to last about a week and the judge has expressed his intention to keep a lid on the proceedings in an effort to prevent it from becoming a media circus.