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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
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Jussie Smollett Accuses Chicago of Malicious Prosecution

Actor Jussie Smollett filed a counterclaim against Chicago asserting the city knows he is telling the truth about an alleged hate crime against him but falsely accused him of lying anyway.

CHICAGO (CN) – Actor Jussie Smollett filed a counterclaim against Chicago asserting the city knows he is telling the truth about an alleged hate crime against him but falsely accused him of lying anyway.

The former “Empire” star filed his counterclaim for malicious prosecution late Tuesday night against the city, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, two detectives and two brothers involved in the fiasco.

The city sued Smollett in Cook County Circuit Court in April under its false statements and cost recovery ordinances to get back the $130,000 it says it spent for 1,836 hours of police overtime in investigating his claims. The case has since been transferred to federal court.

Smollett continues stand by his story that two men attacked him on a Chicago street on a late night in January, yelling homophobic and racist slurs, pouring bleach on him and putting a rope around his neck.

However, based on statements from two brothers who say they helped stage the attack, the Chicago Police Department determined it was a hoax.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office brought 16 felony criminal charges against the actor after a grand jury returned the indictment.

The case was abruptly dropped just two weeks later in exchange for Smollett’s $10,000 bond.

In his affirmative defense, filed along with his counterclaim, Smollett says the city agreed to accept that money and that is all it should get.

The actor says in the filing that Chicago ignored evidence that he was telling the truth, including witnesses saying they saw a white man that fit Smollett’s description of one of the attackers.

“Over the course of the CPD’s investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett … the CPD began to anonymously [disseminate] false and misleading information about the investigation and the evidence to the media, painting a false picture of the incident and causing public disbelief of Mr. Smollett’s statements,” the counterclaim states.

Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, one of whom knows Smollett through “Empire” and trained at the gym with him, were held for questioning and told police they were paid $3,500 to pretend to attack him.

Smollett says that confession was made in the 47th hour of a two-day interrogation, and that it doesn’t check out.

“To this day, Mr. Smollett does not know what involvement, if any, the Osundairo brothers had in the attack on him,” he says, adding that “CPD told the Osundairo brothers that they would go free if they implicated Mr. Smollett.”

“Notwithstanding these glaring deficiencies, which show the Osundairo brothers’ statements were not reliable, the CPD closed the investigation; instead charges were promptly filed against Mr. Smollett, and the CPD and other city officials publicly shamed and condemned him,” the counterclaim says.

Smollett asserts Superintendent Johnson has advanced this narrative in media interviews, claiming the actor was dissatisfied with his “Empire” salary and calling the incident a “publicity stunt.”

The Osundairo brothers’ attorney Gloria Schmidt has also given interviews that perpetuate the false narrative, according to the counterclaim.

All of this “has caused Mr. Smollett to be the subject of mass public ridicule and harm to him personally,” he claims.

U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall, appointed by George W. Bush, denied the actor’s motion to dismiss the city’s complaint last month, saying the facts of the case should be argued.

Smollett’s answer, affirmative defense and counterclaim were all filed by one of his attorneys, William J. Quinlan of the Quinlan Law Firm in Chicago.

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesperson for the Chicago Law Department, said in a statement that the city “stands by its original complaint and will continue to pursue this litigation.”

“The judge in this case has already ruled in our favor once and we fully expect to be successful in defeating these counterclaims,” McCaffrey said.

Categories / Civil Rights, Entertainment, Government, Law

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