Empire actor Jussie Smollett may have skated on charges related to the hoax hate crime he was alleged to have orchestrated, but the two other men involved are now dishing details about what went on in a new lawsuit. Bola and Ola Osundairo, fitness fanatic Nigerian brothers Smollett knew and allegedly paid to stage the attack, filed a defamation lawsuit on Tuesday against Smollett’s lawyers Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian in Illinois federal court.
While Smollett himself is not named as a defendant, the lawsuit includes details about the case against Smollett that Cook County prosecutors dropped.
The Osundairos claim that Smollett “directed every aspect of the attack, including the location and the noose” and did so to “benefit” himself and his career. That matches up with the Chicago Police Department’s understanding of what occurred. It’s worth noting that even the prosecutors who dropped the 16 felony counts against Smollett believed that he lied.
The Osundairos, occasional extras on Empire, noted that they were “promptly released without charges” in February after Chicago Police determined that there was “verification and in-depth corroboration that the ‘attack’ was a hoax entirely conceived and directed” by Smollett. They essentially argued that Smollett took advantage of their desire to “make it” in Hollywood in exchange for the “favor” of staging a “social media hoax”:
In short, Mr. 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. 16. On January 25, 2019, Mr. Smollett told Plaintiffs, in private, that he needed a favor from them: they were to help him stage a social media hoax and pretend to attack him. Mr. Smollett’s motivation was simple. He wanted his employer and the public to notice and appreciate him as a successful Black, openly gay actor.
From here, the plaintiffs aired their grievances about remarks from Smollett’s lawyers after the case was resolved:
Mr. Smollett’s attorneys, faced with an outraged public, did not retreat after their success. Instead they doubled down, not simply affirming that Mr. Smollett was a wholly innocent victim, but that (among other accusations) Plaintiffs unequivocally led a criminally homophobic, racist, and violent attack against Mr. Smollett. Defendants made these comments knowing they were untrue to distract from Mr. Smollett’s farce and to promote themselves and the Geragos & Geragos Law Firm.
In another passage, Bola Osundairo alleged that Glandian falsely suggested that he had sex with with Smollett. They said that this was a) false and b) potentially dangerous not just for them but for their family members, since homosexuality is widely rejected in Nigeria and punishable, in some cases, by being stoned to death.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria, which can result in 14 years of imprisonment. If the accused is married, the punishment is death by stoning.
Research by Pew indicates that 99% of Nigerians believe homosexuality should not be tolerated. Ms. Glandian’s globally broadcasted statements that Bola Osundairo is homosexual endangers him and the lives of his Nigerian family.
The bodybuilder brothers also claimed that Glandian falsely said on Geragos’ Reasonable Doubt podcast that they were involved in illegal steroid trafficking.
“Ms. Glandian falsely stated that Plaintiffs are involved in “illegal” Nigerian steroid trafficking, and that these steroids help clients lose weight,” the lawsuit said. “Ms. Glandian added, scoffing, that Plaintiffs’ ‘platform. . . is all about being steroid-free . . . Their whole thing is, you know, all-natural bodybuilding. It’s ridiculous.’”
“Plaintiffs do not use or distribute illegal Nigerian steroids,” the lawsuit continued. “Ms. Glandian’s comments are patently false and defamatory.”
The Osundairos claim that these, and other statements, have damaged their reputations and careers. They demand a jury trial and “appropriate compensatory damages, punitive damages and costs.”
Geragos and Glandian told Law&Crime in a statement that the Osundairos’ lawsuit was a “comical legal document.”
“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 and further profit from an attack they admit they perpetrated,” they said. “While we know this ridiculous lawsuit will soon be dismissed because it lacks any legal footing, we look forward to exposing the fraud the Osundairo brothers and their attorneys have committed on the public.”
Osundairo brothers lawsuit on Scribd
Editor’s note: this story was updated after publication with a statement from Geragos and Glandian.
[Image via Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports]