Metro Weekly

Judge calls Jussie Smollett’s alleged hate crime hoax “despicable” if true

Smollett's legal team said the accusations against him were part of "an organized law enforcement spectacle"

Jussie Smollett – Photo: Chicago Police

A Chicago judge has said that accusations Jussie Smollett staged an anti-gay and racist attack against himself are “utterly outrageous” and “despicable” if true.

Smollett surrendered to police on Thursday and has been charged with disorderly conduct over the attack on Jan. 29.

Chicago police allege that Smollett paid two brothers to fake the attack, which Smollett alleged took place in the early hours of Jan. 29.

Smollett told police that two masked men attacked the Empire star, shouting racial and homophobic slurs, tying a rope around his neck, pouring bleach over him, and yelling “This is MAGA country!”

Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., set bond at $100,000 and reprimanded Smollett for the seriousness of the allegations against him, the Chicago Tribune reports.

In particular, Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., who is black, focused on Smollett’s assertion that his assailants had tied a noose-style rope around his neck during the attack.

“The most vile and despicable part of it, if it’s true, is the noose,” he said. “That symbol conjures up such evil in this country’s history.”

Smollett posted bail with the help of a friend in California and then reported to the set of Empire, the Tribune reports.

His future on the Fox drama is uncertain, after reports that his scenes would be cut following allegations that he had faked an attack that drew sympathy and condemnation from across the entertainment and political spectrums.

[UPDATE: Smollett has since been suspended from Empire, and will not appear in the last two episodes of season five. Read more here.]

However, Smollett’s legal team issued a statement Thursday night calling the accusations against him part of “an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system.”

“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a mayoral election,” the statement reads. “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.”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at

Leave a Comment: