The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday refused to throw out charges against former Empire actor Jussie Smollett that accuse him of staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself and rejected his effort to remove the special prosecutor in the case.
Smollett’s lawyers argued in an emergency petition that Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Toomin overstepped his authority and misinterpreted the law when he ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor. The court did not explain its decision to reject the arguments by Smollett’s lawyers.
Smollett. 37, was initially accused by Cook County prosecutors of falsely reporting to police that the alleged phony attack was real. Sixteen counts of disorderly conduct originally filed against him were dismissed and Toomin found Smollett’s first prosecution was invalid.
After another investigation by special prosecutor Dan Webb, six counts of the same charges we filed against Smollett, to which he pleaded not guilty last week.
Smollett, who is black and gay, told police that two masked men attacked him as he was walking home in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2019. He said they made racist and homophobic insults, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing, and that at least one of his attackers was a white man who told him he was in “MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Weeks later, police alleged Smollett paid two black friends to help stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary as an actor on Empire, a Fox series filmed in Chicago that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.
The friends, brothers Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, would be the state’s star witnesses if Smollett’s case makes it to trial. The brothers are bodybuilders and aspiring actors whom Smollett knew from the Empire set and the gym.