There was a development on Tuesday in Jussie Smollett’s legal battle with the City of Chicago. The city was already suing Smollett to recoup costs for the investigation into whether he faked a hate crime attack, so he filed a counterclaim saying officials withheld exculpatory information. The actor’s attorneys claim city officials engaged in “malicious prosecution.”
The new defendants in this counterclaim include the city, and the police department. Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Ola Osundairo are also being sued. They previously said they helped Smollett create a hoax in which he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack. The actor is black and gay. Smollett has denied making up the assault.
For example, it was claimed that a text in which Smollett apparently asked Abel Osundairo for help wasn’t for the alleged hoax, it was for Osundairo to get herbal steroids during a trip to Nigeria. Per the filing obtained by Law&Crime:
… Mr. Smollett contacted Abel sending the text message “Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?” for purposes of obtaining herbal steroids that Abel had represented he could procure in Nigeria.
Online search history from one of the brothers corroborates this, according to the filing:
That search history from the time period in question, which CPD obtained, demonstrates that not only were the Osundairo Brothers interested in steroids and steroid alternatives to aid in losing weight and increasing muscle mass, but they were also specifically interested in what substances were banned in the United States two days before their trip to Nigeria.
Police said Smollett orchestrated the alleged assault as a publicity stunt because he was unhappy with his pay on the show Empire. According to the complaint, Fox executives and producers rejected the idea that the actor was dissatisfied with pay. Smollett’s team argues that the Osundario brothers lied about participating in a hoax.
“The City stands by its original complaint and will continue to pursue this litigation,” Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Law, told Law&Crime in a statement. “The judge in this case has already ruled in our favor once and we fully expect to be successful in defeating these counterclaims.”
Law&Crime reached out to Gloria Schmidt, the attorney for the Osundairo brothers.
“This is just another sad attempt by Jussie Smollett to try and falsely smear the Osundario brothers, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department. There is no legal merit to his claims, and could be sanctionable,” Schmidt said in a statement provided to Law&Crime by a spokesperson. “The Chicago brothers were open and honest with the Chicago Police Department, testified under oath in front of a Grand Jury, and stand ready to do so again, in open court, if and when called upon to do so.”
You can read the rest of the counterclaim here.
Note: Updated with statements from the Chicago Department of Law, and Gloria Schmidt. This article previously mis-attributed Schmidt’s statement to a spokesperson.
[Image via Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images]