Jussie Smollett was found guilty today on five of the six felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police that the prosecution brought against him in connection with the fictitious “racist” and “homophobic” attack on him. It took the jury nine hours to reach the verdicts. That doesn’t seem like a very long time given what the jury had to sort through, but it seems long enough to have rendered a carefully considered verdict.
Smollett was convicted on the five counts that alleged he lied to police on January 29, 2019 — the day of the purported attack. The sixth count, on which Smollett was acquitted, alleged that he lied to a Chicago police detective on February 14.
One of the Nigerian men Smollett hired to carry out the fake attack, which the actor falsely attributed to a Trump supporter, reacted to the verdict with a grin, a fist pump, and the statement “Nigerian-American lives matter.”
Special prosecutor Dan Webb made this statement:
For him to fake a hate crime, fake it and then cause the police department to spend enormous efforts … I thought it was serious criminal misconduct that needed to be approached and have a public trial about it.
Webb also said that Smollett “compounded his wrongdoing” by lying to jurors during his time on the stand, and indeed by insulting the jurors’ intelligence with his story and testimony.
Webb plans to bring up Smollett’s lying with the judge at the sentencing phase as an aggravating factor. But Smollett’s offense was already aggravated in my opinion. If hate crimes are specially egregious, then so is lying about them.
Ordinarily, one lies to the police to protect oneself or to protect a person one cares about. Smollett lied to the police to promote his “brand.”
In doing so, he added to racial tension and resentment in America. There’s more than enough of that resentment without Hollywood actors gratuitously generating more by telling tales of racism.
Smollett should receive the maximum sentence allowable for the crimes he committed. According to this report, a disorderly conduct charge for a false crime report is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
I’ll conclude this post with a reminder of what Joe Biden tweeted after Smollett made his false crime report:
What happened today to @JussieSmollett must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie.
Wrong again, Clueless Joe.