Law & the Courts

Brothers Claim Smollett ‘Directed Every Aspect’ of Hate-Crime Hoax in New Defamation Suit

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves court after charges against him were dropped by state prosecutors in Chicago, Ill. March 26, 2019. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

The two Nigerian brothers who claim to have helped Jussie Smollett perpetrate a fake hate crime earlier this year said Smollett “directed every aspect of the attack” in a defamation suit filed Tuesday against the Empire actor’s attorneys.

Smollett was indicted by a grand jury on 16 charges related to the alleged hoax after the brothers, who worked with him on Empire, told police he hired them to throw a chemical substance on him and place a noose around his neck. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office subsequently dropped all the charges without requiring that Smollett admit guilt in a decision that was widely condemned by the Chicago Police Department and the mayor’s office.

“Mr. Smollett’s motivation was simple. He wanted his employer and the public to notice and appreciate him as a successful Black, openly gay actor. So, Mr. Smollett directed every aspect of the attack, including the location and the noose,” reads the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court on Tuesday.

Attorneys representing the Osundairo brothers claim in the suit that Smollett’s attorneys defamed their clients by maintaining his innocence and repeatedly stating publicly that the brothers genuinely attacked him after evidence to the contrary emerged.

“Mr. Smollett’s attorneys, faced with an outraged public, did not retreat after their
success,” the suit reads. “Instead they doubled down, not simply affirming that Mr. Smollett was a wholly innocent victim, but that (among other accusations) Plaintiffs unequivocally led a criminally homophobic, racist, and violent attack against Mr. Smollett. Defendants made these comments knowing they were untrue to distract from Mr. Smollett’s farce and to promote themselves and the Geragos & Geragos Law Firm.”

In addition to allegations related to the attack, the lawsuit specifically targets one of Smollett’s attorneys, Tina Glandian, who claimed publicly that one of the brothers was involved in a sexual relationship with Smollett — an allegation that could, according to the suit, placed the brothers’ family in Nigeria in danger.

The lawsuit further alleges that Smollett’s lawyers’ statements have irreparably harmed the Osundairo brothers’ nascent acting careers and caused them substantial emotion distress.

Smollett “used his clout as a wealthy actor to influence Plaintiffs, who were in a subordinate relationship to him and were aspiring to ‘make it’ in Hollywood.” the lawsuit states.

Smollett’s attorneys dismissed the lawsuit as the Osundairo brothers’ ridiculous attempt to “stay relevant” in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

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