Jurnee Smollett is breaking her silence after her brother, Jussie Smollett, was accused of lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime. More than a year after the scandal broke, Smollett, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, for the first time spoke out about the legal drama that rocked headlines for months and had a profound impact on her family.
"It's been f—ing painful, one of the most painful things my family's ever experienced," she told the outlet. "To love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating. I was already in a very dark space for several reasons, and I've tried to not let it make me pessimistic."
The Full House alum went on to add that despite the allegations against her brother, she is standing by his side. Defending his innocence, which he has maintained from the start, the actress said, "But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother."
The case against Smollett's brother began in January of 2019 after Jussie, an openly gay Black actor, claimed two men assaulted him when he was on his way back to his Chicago apartment. He said they wore red Make America Great Again hats, yelled homophobic and racist slurs at him, put a noose around his neck, and threw a substance at him. Following an investigation, the case took a dramatic turn when law enforcement accused the actor of staging the incident. Let go from Empire, Jussie indicted in March of 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. The actor later pleaded guilty to the charges, which were dropped by the office of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.
In February of this year, however, the case was thrust back into the headlines after a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment of disorderly conduct charging Smollett with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers "related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime." Smollett has also pleaded not guilty to these charges, and is said to be relying on "the truth."
Now, as the case continues to unravel, Smollett praised her brother as being "so strong." She said that he had filled his time by "staying creative, as creatives do," explaining that he has been "singing, writing, working on music."