Chicago, Ill. — Testifying in his own defense Monday, former Empire star Jussie Smollett forcefully denied that he had anything to do with staging a hoax hate crime against himself in January 2019 or that he knowingly reported false information to police after the attack.

Smollett said he considered Abimbola Osundairo, one of the alleged attackers, a friend, and didn’t believe he had been involved, even after police told them of their suspicions. He called the alleged attack “embarrassing,” and said he never wanted to report it to police, in part because it could hurt his career, but also because of his lack


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