Brothers Say Lawyers for ‘Empire’ Actor Defamed Them

Actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the “Empire” FYC Event in Los Angeles on May 20, 2016. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

CHICAGO (CN) – In yet another plot twist in the Jussie Smollett saga, the two brothers who claim they helped stage his attack sued the actor’s attorneys for defamation in federal court Tuesday.

The “Empire” star, written off the show amid the hate-crime scandal, said two men yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him on a Chicago street in January, hitting him and putting a rope around his neck.

City investigators determined the incident was set up by Smollett himself, partly due to Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo saying they were paid $3,500 each to participate.

A grand jury indicted the actor on 16 felony counts of making a false report and disorderly conduct.

In a surprise move, prosecutors with the Cook County State’s Attorney dropped all charges just two weeks later in exchange for Smollett’s $10,000 bond.

The Osundairos, one of whom worked with Smollett on the set of “Empire,” filed a defamation lawsuit Tuesday in Chicago federal court against the law firm Geragos & Geragos, as well as attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, for allegedly making false statements about them.

The brothers say in their complaint that Smollett, who wanted his employer on the show and the public to “appreciate him as a successful black, openly gay actor,” directed “every aspect of the attack, including the location and the noose.”

But after their client’s criminal charges were dropped, both Glandian and Geragos spread false information about the brothers during media appearances, according to the lawsuit.

During several television and podcast interviews, Glandian allegedly said it was the Osundairos that lied to Chicago police and that they did in fact commit a hate crime against Smollett.

She even said Abimbola had a sexual relationship with the actor, which is both false and endangers the brothers’ family in Nigeria, where homosexuality is illegal and unaccepted, the brothers say.

“My city, my police department and my clients all deserve to have their reputations restored,” one of the Osundairos’ attorneys, Gloria Schmidt, said at a press conference Tuesday.

“We want to end these malicious attacks and ensure that those responsible for continuing to destroy the reputation of the Chicago Police Department, the city of Chicago and Ola and Bola Osundairo are held accountable,” Schmidt added.

“There are consequences for the actions that Tina Glandian and Mark Geragos have taken,” said Gregory Kulis of Kulis & Associates, another attorney on the case. “Today’s suit enables us to make sure those consequences are decided in a court of law, not on a cable news network, not on an interview on a TV station.”

The Osundairos are represented by Schmidt, Kulis and James D. Tunick.

The city has also taken it upon itself to hold Smollett responsible for the apparent hoax, filing its own lawsuit under Chicago’s false claims ordinance to collect the $130,000 it cost to investigate the incident.

Geragos called the city’s demand for payment unconstitutional and defamatory, adding that Smollett would not be intimidated into paying up.

He did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment about the Osundairos’ lawsuit against him and his firm.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly M. Foxx has found herself at the center of her own scandal, coming under fire for how her office handled the criminal case.

Recusing herself early on, leaked text messages reveal that Foxx thought the 16 counts were “overcharging” Smollett, who she called “washed up.”

Foxx also had contact with the actor’s family members, who she was asked to speak with about the case by Tina Tchen, a former aide to Michelle Obama.

Two of Foxx’s aides, the chief ethics officer and the chief of the convictions integrity unit, have resigned.

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