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Watch the background to the bizarre Jussie Smollett case – this video was published in April 2019

Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of lying to police.

The TV actor, 39, had claimed he was the victim of an alleged racist and homophobic attack in Chicago in 2019.

Authorities accused him of staging the attack for publicity, something he has always denied.

On Thursday a Chicago jury found Smollett guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct. Each count carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.

The story has taken quite a few twists and turns since it began.

Here’s a full timeline of what’s happened since January 2019.

29 January 2019: The alleged incident takes place

Image source, Fox
Image caption,

Jussie Smollett and Taraji P Henson as Jamal and Cookie Lyon in Empire

Chicago police say they’re investigating a suspected racist and homophobic attack of Jussie Smollett by two masked men which happened at about 2am.

They say the actor was punched in the face, had an “unknown chemical substance” poured on him and a rope wrapped around his neck.

Jussie Smollett tells police the two attackers also made reference to MAGA (make America great again) – the slogan often used by President Donald Trump and his supporters.

He goes to a doctor and police describe his condition as “good”.

30 January: An outpouring of support from celebrities

Media caption,

Attacked actor ‘has tasted brutality of hatred’

Stars including Viola Davis, Janelle Monae and TI come out with messages of support for the actor.

His Empire co-stars including Grace Byers and Naomi Campbell also show support.

Grace Byers says: “This despicable act only shamefully reveals how deeply the diseases of hatred, inequality, racism and discrimination continue to course through our country’s veins.”

Empire creator Lee Daniels posts and emotional video on Instagram, syaing: “Hold your head up Jussie. I’m with you.”

Comedian Steve Harvey says: “This is about coming to the aid of another brother that has tasted the brutality of hatred and racism and bigotry.”

31 January: Refusing to hand over his phone

Image source, Reuters

Jussie Smollett refuses to hand over his phone to police investigating the attack.

They wanted it to confirm details – including the MAGA references made – as the actor says he was on the phone to his manager at the time.

A day later, the police say: “He’s a victim. We don’t treat him like a criminal.”

They say they won’t demand the phone.

1 February: Jussie Smollett speaks for the first time

Image source, Reuters
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1 February: People come out in support of Jussie Smollett

The actor says he’s “OK” after the incident.

In a statement, he says: “The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”

He adds: “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level.”

Chicago police also release pictures of two “people of interest” they want to speak to.

Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi says “detectives are taking this development seriously”.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

2 February: ‘I’m the gay Tupac’

At a concert that had been planned for a long time, Jussie Smollett makes some more comments on the incident.

“I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to,” he says, reading from a piece of paper.

“Just because there has been a lot of stuff said about me that’s absolutely not true.”

Glancing at the balcony, he adds: “I’m sure my lawyer’s sitting up there like ‘No, Jussie, no’.”

He says: “Above all, I fought… back.”

“I’m the gay Tupac,” he finishes, without explaining what he means.

11 February: Phone records submitted

Jussie Smollett gives police a PDF file of his phone records, after they had originally asked for his phone and he’d refused.

But the files are redacted – some bits have been covered up.

The police says there’s no reason to suspect any wrongdoing from Jussie Smollett and are “not even looking at charges regarding filing a false report”.

14 February: ‘Persons of interest’ arrested by police

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The two people of interest are arrested and interviewed by the police, but not charged and not treated as suspects.

They are Obabinjo (Ola) and Abimbola (Abel) Osundairo, brothers originally from Nigeria.

They had worked as Empire extras, sometimes going to the gym with the actor, their lawyer says.

Some of the items seized from a police raid of their home include a black face mask, an Empire script, phone, receipts, a red hat and bleach.

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Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

On the same day, an interview with Jussie Smollett is shown on Good Morning America.

He suggests the alleged attackers were white, saying: “If I had said [the attackers] was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more.”

On his refusal to hand over his phone, he says: “I have private pictures and videos and numbers… my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos.”

And speaking through tears, he says gay people should “learn to fight” these kinds of attacks.

Chicago police say they have “no evidence to support” reports that the attack was staged.

17 February: ‘Trajectory of the investigation’ has shifted

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Chicago police say there have been “some developments in this investigation,” a day after they release the Osundairo brothers without charge.

They say they want to speak to “the individual who reported the incident” – Jussie Smollett.

The actor’s lawyers say in a statement: “Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.”

They add it’s “impossible to believe” that the Osundairos “could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity”.

20 February: Jussie Smollett is charged by police

Chicago police say the actor is charged with “disorderly conduct/filing a false police report”.

Earlier in the day, a reporter in the US obtains footage appearing to show the brothers buying materials, including ski masks, that had allegedly been worn by the people who attacked the actor.

Mr Smollett’s lawyers say they will “conduct a thorough investigation and mount an aggressive defence”.

The rapper 50 Cent, who had previously come out in support of Jussie Smollett, posts a picture on Instagram referencing the actor’s “gay Tupac” comment.

In the picture, he’s put Jussie Smollett’s face over Tupac’s on the album cover for All Eyez On Me – and changed the album name to “all liez on me”.

21 February: Jussie Smollett is arrested

Image source, Chicago Police
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The police photo of Jussie Smollett from 21 February 2019

Jussie Smollett hands himself into police and is arrested.

At a press conference, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says that Smollett “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career”.

He adds that the actor did it because he was “dissatisfied with his salary”.

Police claim he also had sent a racist letter to himself at a Fox studio and paid the Osundairo brothers a cheque for $3,500 (£2,600) to stage the attack.

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Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson: “Smollett dragged city’s reputation through mud”

Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, the makers of Empire, issue a statement regarding the future of Jussie Smollett on the show.

“We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

President Donald Trump tweets about the incident, calling the actor’s comments “racist and dangerous”.

When asked about the alleged attack previously, the president had said: “I think that’s horrible. It doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.”

Later that day in court, Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke says that the “most vile” part of the incident was the use of a noose.

Smollett’s lawyers issue a strongly-worded statement after the hearing, calling it an “organised law enforcement spectacle”.

Image source, EPA
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Jussie Smollett emerges from the Cook County Court complex after posting 10% of a $100,000 bond in Chicago

22 February: Jussie Smollett is suspended from Empire

The TV show’s executive producers release a statement saying the actor won’t be in the final two episodes of the latest series.

They add that the allegations against him are “disturbing”.

25 February: Cheque called into question

Reporters in the US get hold of a copy of the $3,500 cheque allegedly paid to Abel Osundairo for the attack.

It’s dated 23 January and says: “5 week Nutrition/Workout program (Don’t Go).”

ABC News reports that Don’t Go is the name of a music video Smollett was planning to shoot – which is why he paid the brothers to get him in shape.

1 March: Osundairo brothers ‘regret’ getting involved

Image source, Reuters
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Gloria Schmidt, the lawyer for the Osundairo brothers

A statement from the brothers’ lawyer Gloria Schmidt says they have “tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation”.

It adds: “They understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves.”

13 March: Empire returns

The first new episode of Empire is aired since the alleged attack.

Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon features in the episode, which is down in the ratings, according to Variety.

He is scheduled to appear in seven of the remaining nine episodes of season five.

14 March: Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty

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March 2019: Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty in court

Jussie Smollett appears in court charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct and pleads not guilty.

He must tell the court if he plans to leave the state of Illinois and is due back in court in mid-April.

20 March: Empire creator speaks out

Lee Daniels, the creator of Empire, speaks about the ‘Pain and anger’ over Jussie Smollett he and his cast have gone through over the saga.

In an Instagram video, he adds that he and his team “really don’t know how to deal with it.”

He adds that Empire “was made to bring America together” and to “talk about the atrocities that are happening right now in the streets.”

26 March: Smollett cleared of all charges

After an emergency court appearance, all charges against Jussie Smollett are dropped.

In a statement, his lawyer says: “He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator.”

They add that his record “has been wiped clean.”

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

But Chicago Police and the city’s mayor stand by their case against Jussie Smollett, criticising the latest development in a joint news conference.

Superintendent Eddie Johnson says: “At the end of the day, it is Mr Smollett who committed this hoax, period.

“If he wanted to clear his name, the way to do that is in a court of law so that everyone can see the evidence… I stand by the facts of what we produced.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Jussie was “let off scot-free, with no sense of accountability for the moral and ethical wrong of his actions”.

27 March: Lawyer says ‘case is closed’

Jussie receives more criticism from Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

He calls the dropping of the charges “a whitewash of justice” and lashes out at Smollett for dragging the city’s reputation “through the mud”.

Illinois prosecutor Joe Magats, who decided to drop the charges, tells CBS he thinks Smollett is guilty.

But he explains the charges were dropped because Jussie forfeited a $10,000 (£7,600) bond payment and carried out community service.

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The two sides in Jussie Smollett case

Jussie Smollett’s lawyer Patricia Brown Holmes says “the case is closed” and “no public official has the right to violate” her client’s rights.

In a statement she says: “We respectfully request all government agencies involved live up to the ethical tenets of their office.

“The case was dismissed. We should all allow Mr Smollett to move on with his life as a free citizen.”

28 March: Trump calls case ’embarrassment to nation’

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

US President Donald Trump tweets his thoughts on the case, calling it “outrageous” and an “embarrassment to the nation”.

He also reveals the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will now be investigating.

29 March: Jussie is ordered to pay for police overtime

Chicago police orders Jussie to pay $130,000 (£99,000) to cover the cost of police officers, including overtime worked on the case.

Officers say the time spent reviewing video and physical evidence could have been spent on other investigations.

In a letter to the actor, they repeat accusations that Jussie “orchestrated” the attack.

12 April: The actor is sued by the City of Chicago

After Jussie Smollett refused to pay the $130,000 demanded by the Chicago police, he has been sued for “three times” that amount.

Police still want to be compensated for the manpower used investigating his alleged assault.

They still believe Jussie staged the attack.

23 April: Brothers suing actor’s lawyers

Image source, Reuters
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Olabinjo Osundairo, one of the brothers questioned by police over the alleged attack, is an amateur boxer

It’s revealed that Jussie Smollett’s legal team is being sued for defamation by the Osundairo brothers – who say they continue to be accused of carrying out a racist and homophobic attack against the actor.

Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo say their reputations have been damaged as a result of the claims.

Smollett’s lawyers Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian described the lawsuit as “comical” and “ridiculous”.

30 April: ‘No plans’ for Jussie Smollett’s Empire return

TV Network Fox confirms Empire has been renewed for a sixth season but said there were “no plans” for Smollett’s character, Jamal, to return.

In a statement it said: “By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire.”

Smollett has worked on the show since season one in 2015. His character was removed from the final two episodes of season five after the allegations against him surfaced.

5 June: Jussie Smollett ‘will NOT be returning to Empire’

There it is – confirmation from Empire co-creator Lee Daniels that Jussie Smollett will definitely not feature in the show’s final season.

24 June: Noose footage released by police

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Jussie Smollett noose footage released by Chicago Police

Chicago Police release footage taken about seven hours after the alleged attack.

Taken from a police officer’s bodycam in Jussie Smollett’s apartment, it shows the actor with a rope still around his neck.

An officer says: “Do you want to take it off or anything?”

Smollett replies: “Yeah I do, I just wanted you to see it.”

The footage is part of hundreds of files released by Chicago Police from their investigation into the case.

Another video appears to show Abel and Ola Osundairo in a cab on the night the police were called.

12 February 2020: Six new charges

Special prosecutor Dan Webb, who was assigned to investigate how the case was handled, says in a statement he is going to further prosecute Smollett.

The actor is charged with six counts of lying to police.

29 November 2021: Trial begins

Image source, Getty Images
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Smollett was embraced by supporters as he entered court at the start of his trial on 29 November 2021

On the opening day of his trial, authorities allege that Smollett paid the Osundairo brothers to carry out the attack to promote his career because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on Empire.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb argues the actor had “developed a secret plan that would make it appear there was actually a hate crime that actually occurred against him by supporters of Donald Trump”.

During the trial Smollett says the cheque was for a meal and workout plan from Abel, who he says he was involved in a sexual relationship with before the alleged attack.

Smollett repeatedly denies in court that he had been involved in a “hoax”, and says he did not call the police because “as a black man in America, I don’t trust the police, I’m sorry”.

9 December 2021: Smollett found guilty

The jury of six men and six women reaches its decision one day after deliberations begin.

It finds Smollett guilty of five of the six counts of disorderly conduct, meaning that the last one had not been proven in court.

Each count carries a penalty of up to three years in prison. Given Smollett’s lack of previous convictions, experts have said a lighter sentence or probation is likely.

A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.

This article was originally published on 25th June 2019.

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