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The two brothers who say they helped Jussie Smollett stage a hate crime are sorry they ever got involved, according to their attorney.
“My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” their attorney Gloria Schmidt said in a statement to Chicago’s CBS 2 on Thursday.
Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were arrested and then released last month in connection to the alleged hate crime against Smollett, which occurred on Jan. 29. The 36-year-old “Empire” star, who is black and gay, told police that two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, doused him with a chemical that may have been bleach and left a noose around his neck as he was leaving a Subway restaurant in the early morning hours. However, authorities were unable to find any surveillance footage of the attack and Smollett’s story soon came under intense scrutiny. After further investigation, he's now facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for making a false police report and is scheduled to return to court on March 14.
Chicago police have called Smollett’s story “bogus” and say that Smollett paid the brothers to help stage the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” and wanted to build his public profile. Police have since suggested that more evidence exists that support their claim.
"There’s still a lot of physical evidence, video evidence and testimony that just simply does not support his version of what happened,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during an appearance on “Good Morning America” Monday.
The brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 via check for their part in the attack, Johnson said. A copy of the check obtained by the ABC News suggests in the memo line that the money was for a personalized nutrition and workout plan to help Smollett prepare for an upcoming music video shoot. Text messages between Smollett and the brothers also refer to the aforementioned nutrition and workout plan.
Smollett has maintained his innocence, with his legal team saying in a statement obtained by CBS 2 last week that the police’s handling of the situation was an “organized law enforcement spectacle.”
“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing,” the statement reads.
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