Jussie Smollett and his legal team may have hoped to put their scandal behind them, but the two brothers at the center of the controversy are ensuring that doesn’t happen.
Smollett is the gay, black “Empire” actor who claimed he was the victim of a hate crime while in Chicago. He indicated his attackers were supporters of President Donald Trump, telling police they shouted, “This is MAGA country.”
However, authorities quickly found numerous holes in his story.
After investigating, Chicago police said Smollett perpetrated a hoax. Brothers Ola and Bola Osundairo were thrown into the mix, with evidence suggesting that they were hired by Smollett to purchase a rope later used as a prop noose and to act out the “hate crime” scene on a city street.
The Osundairo brothers, by all accounts, have cooperated with investigators and were never charged with any wrongdoing. But now they say that their reputations were deeply harmed by the scandal — and they place the blame squarely on Smollett’s team.
The brothers just filed a federal defamation lawsuit against the actor’s attorneys, making it clear that the bizarre saga is far from over.
— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) April 24, 2019
“Attorneys for Ola and Bola Osundairo held a news conference Tuesday morning to discuss the lawsuit, which has been filed against Smollett’s attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian,” WLS-TV reported.
“Attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, through their continued false statements and hateful rhetoric, have only deepened the damage that was caused by the very first out of 16 counts of lies that were told to the police that started this whole situation,” said Gloria Schmidt, who is representing the two brothers.
The Osundairo brothers contend in the lawsuit that Jussie Smollett “used his clout as a wealthy actor to influence Plaintiffs, who were in a subordinate relationship to him and were aspiring to ‘make it’ in Hollywood.” https://t.co/J2hftyDl5u pic.twitter.com/F5iFhTUmKS
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) April 23, 2019
Details from the lawsuit certainly don’t look good for Smollett. The filing seems to align with police statements that the “Empire” actor was behind the apparent hoax and that he is far from any kind of victim in the ordeal.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, says Smollett “directed every aspect of the attack, including the location and the noose.”
“There are numerous defamatory statements [from Smollett’s team] and they are all included in the 16-page lawsuit that we filed,” attorney James Tunick told reporters.
Those alleged defamatory statements may have prevented the Osundairo brothers from working, which is not terribly surprising considering the national attention the case attracted. The brothers are seeking $75,000 each in damages from Smollett’s lawyers.
“We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so one big lie can continue to have life,” the Osundairos said in a joint statement, according to The Associated Press. “These lies are destroying our character and reputation in our personal and professional lives.”
Unsurprisingly, Smollett’s team dismissed the lawsuit and in turn called the Osundairo brothers frauds.
“At first we thought this comical legal document was a parody. Instead this so-called lawsuit by the brothers is more of their lawyer driven nonsense, and a desperate attempt for them to stay relevant,” Smollett’s attorneys said in a statement, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“[W]e look forward to exposing the fraud the Osundairo brothers and their attorneys have committed on the public,” the lawyers said.
What goes around tends to come around. Whether you call it karma or justice, Smollett and the Osundairo brothers are now facing the uncomfortable consequences of their choices.