Jussie Smollett has described “making out” and visiting a gay bathhouse with his alleged attacker, and maintained that accusations he staged a hate crime against himself are “100 per cent false”.
In the initial stages of Smollett’s trial, where he is accused of staging a hate crime hoax and has been charged with six felony disorderly conduct charges, it was unclear if he would take the stand himself, but on Monday (6 December), he was cross-examined by his defence attorney.
The questioning by attorney Nenye Uche lasted almost four hours, according to Rolling Stone, with the former Empire actor reiterating: “There was no hoax.”
While police spent thousands of hours investigating the incident as a hate crime, they later concluded that Smollett had staged the attack, paying Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, brothers who had worked on Empire as extras, to carry it out.
The brothers claim that Jussie Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the hate crime, asking them to dress up in red hats to appear like MAGA Trump supporters.
Last week, when the defence questioned Abimbola, attorney Shay Allen suggested that he and Smollett had had a physical relationship. Abimbola has denied that he is gay.
But Smollett testified on Monday that he met Abimbola at a club in 2017 and that they had visited gay bathhouses together.
They took drugs together and on two occasions, the actor said, and they “made out”. He also said that Abimbola’s brother Olabinjo had never liked him.
Smollett said that at the time he did not know that Abimbola was working as an extra on Empire, and said that he regretted taking drugs.
Smollett confirmed that he had paid Abimbola $3,500, but repeated his previous claim that it had been for personal training and nutrition services to prepare him for a music video.
Explaining private meetings ahead of the alleged attack, Smollett said they had met to discuss Abimbola procuring a “herbal steroid” for weight loss that was illegal in the US.
Jussie Smollett said he did not call the police after the ‘attack’ because he felt ’emasculated’
Describing the night of the alleged attack, Jussie Smollett said that he was returning to his apartment from a Subway sandwich shop when it took place.
He repeated claims that his attackers hurled racist, homophobic slurs at him and looped a rope around his neck.
But Smollett did not immediately call the police, and the authorities were only notified when he returned to his apartment and his friend and creative director Frank Gatson pushed him to call.
Smollett told the jury: “There are a few reasons I didn’t call the police. First, I am a Black man in America, I do not trust the police.
“I am also a well known figure and I am an openly gay man; I am an actor, I want to play a boxer, I want to play Superman, but the moment I got beat I became a f****t who got his ass beat.”
Defence attorney Nenye Uche asked Smollett if “calling the police would somehow emasculate you”, to which the actor responded: “It did.”
Before the end of the day, the prosecution began questioning Jussie Smollett, and will continue on Tuesday (7 December).
Judge James Linn is hopeful that the trial will end on Wednesday at the latest.