The Nigerian brothers who allegedly helped actor Jussie Smollett carry out an alleged hate crime hoax in January filed a defamation suit against Smollett’s attorneys on Tuesday.
A 16-page lawsuit filed by Abel and Ola Osumdairo’s attorney, Gloria Schmidt, alleges that Mark Geragos and lawyers in his firm continued to make public statements to the media and others that the brothers had “led a criminally homophobic, racist and violent attack against Mr. Smollett,” according to Fox News.
However, Geragos and co-defendent Tina Glandian, an attorney in his firm, knew those accusations weren’t true at the time they made them, according to the suit.
“The Chicagoan brothers told the truth,” Schmidt said. “They could have remained silent, but they told the truth to the police, and with their right hands in the air, they told the truth to the grand jury.”
She later said they were “asked to do something by a friend that they trusted, and later that friend betrayed their trust.”
In the lawsuit, the brothers state that Smollett asked them to “help him stage a social media hoax” and that they went along with it because he is a wealthy actor and they “were aspiring to ‘make it’ in Hollywood” Variety reported.
The filing also claimed that the brothers “have suffered and will continue to suffer extreme emotional distress, humiliation, and anxiety, damages to their reputation, and/or damage to current and prospective business relations.”
In an Op-Ed published Saturday on BET.com, Smollett’s brother, Jojo, claimed his brother had been “convicted in the court of public opinion” before the case had even reached the courtroom.
“I have literally seen him violently awakening from night terrors, following the assault,” he wrote. “Some of my siblings, as well as Jussie’s partner and closest friends have seen similar things. While very few people are courageous enough to swim upstream and resist the popular conformity of the day, I still can’t believe how many people failed to ask the question: ‘What if Jussie is telling the truth?'”
The 16 charges against Smollet related to the incident were dropped suddenly by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office on March 26, enraging Chicago police and the public.
Smollet and his lawyers continued to maintain his innocence at a news conference directly following the dismissal of all charges.
Schmidt acknowledged that the brothers had taken part in the alleged hoax but said they have apologized for it and only did so because Smollett paid them, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“As far as their participation in this publicity stunt, they’ve realized that it was wrong, they’ve apologized for it, and they’ve expressed more than once that they are tremendously regretful for the role that they played in it,” Schmidt said.
The Osundairo brothers “have suffered significant emotional distress and feel unsafe and alienated in their local Chicago community,” the lawsuit states. They are seeking unspecified damages.
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