Jussie Smollett testified in his own defense on Monday, saying that he did not stage the attack on himself in January of 2019. Smollett took the stand for over five hours according to a report by CNN, and he is expected to return to the stand on Tuesday. He responded to the testimony of brothers Bola and Ola Osundairo, who testified last week that Smollett paid them to fake a hate crime against him to increase his public profile.
Smollett confirmed that he met the Osundairo brothers on the set of Empire, where he used to be a star. He said that Bola – who he called "Bon" – had helped him get drugs, including cocaine. He then said that he and Bola attended a bath house together in Chicago, and that a sexual relationship between them was just beginning to form.
Smollett described one occasion when he and Bola went out and got a private room together, where they "did more drugs and, like, made out." On another occasion, he said that they went to a female strip club with Ola only to sneak away from him and get a private room together. Last week, Bola denied having any sexual relationship with Smollett at all.
As for Ola, Smollett said: "He kind of creeped me out. Every time we were around him, he didn't speak to me. Every time we needed to leave, he made it seem like we needed to sneak off." He said that he and Ola were never friendly despite his alleged closeness with Bola.
Smollett then moved on to the incidents in January of 2019, beginning with the threatening "hate letter" sent to him at work seven days before the alleged attack. He said that after he received it, Bola offered to become his personal bodyguard, which Smollett was not particularly interested in. However, he said the other man was persistent with this offer in spite of Smollett's refusals.
"Around lunchtime I would smoke my blunt, drive around the neighborhood of the studios. I don't want to be in someone's car," Smollett explained. He said that there was never any discussion of a staged attack even when Bola accompanied him on these lunchtime drives.
Moving on to the attack itself, Smollett said that he never told the police that his alleged attackers were wearing MAGA hats, in spite of what has been reported. He also said that he didn't think the police believed his story after the attack, which is why he did not give them his cell phone number or follow up with them as the case progressed.
Smollett will be cross-examined further on Tuesday – the riskiest part of testifying in one's own defense. While this is not always considered a sound legal strategy, Smollett and his lawyers seemed to think it was worth it, particularly when the actor grew emotional on the stand. Smollett has pleaded not guilty to six counts of disorderly contact in connection with this case.