Empire actor Jussie Smollett's lawyers insist the actor did not play a "role in his own attack" after law enforcement sources told media outlets the two brothers arrested in connection to his alleged attack claimed they were "paid" for the attack.
"As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," his defense lawyers, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, told Deadline Saturday night. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
The attorneys went on to say that one of the men interviewed by police this week is a personal trainer who was "hired to ready him physically for a music video."
"It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity," the attorneys said.
Smollett and his attorneys said they will continue to cooperate with the investigation.
"At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to 'unnamed' sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels," the statement concluded.
Smollett's attorneys released the statement after law enforcement sources told multiple media outlets that brothers Obabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo told police Smollett "paid" them to stage the alleged assault. They sources also said the brothers bought the rope found around Smollett's neck at a hardware store in Chicago.
Sources told CBS Chicago the brothers bought the rope on Jan. 25. They told police they were paid $3,500 before they left for Nigeria and promised $500 after they returned to Chicago. They also told police they rehearsed the attack "days" before the attack and bought a red had at an Uptown beauty supply store.
Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men in the early hours of Jan. 29, on his way back to his apartment. The actor said the men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, poured an unknown chemical on him and put a rope around his neck.
Earlier in the week, there were rumors Smollett was being written off Empire, but 20th Century FOX said that was not the case. The studio has not commented on Saturday's developments yet.
"It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more," Smollett told Good Morning America when asked about rumors the attack was staged. "And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now."
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