Jussie Smollett took the stand in his defense in the fifth day of his trial in Chicago Monday—and he strongly denied staging a hate crime against himself in early 2019. Last week, brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo—nicknamed "Bola" and "Ola"—testified that the former Empire actor had orchestrated the attack, giving them $100 for supplies and telling them to injure him slightly and put a rope around his neck. But in his testimony Monday, Smollett supported the defense argument that the brothers might have attacked him because they wanted to scare him into hiring them as private security, the New York Times reports.
Smollett testified that he had been "creeped out" by Ola Osundairo. He said the man tried to act as his bodyguard and behaved in ways that reminded him of the Secret Service. Smollett said he had a very different relationship with Bola Osundairo, CNN reports. He said that on more than one occasion, they had taken drugs together and engaged in sex acts. Bola Osundairo testified last week that he had not had a sexual relationship with Smollett.
"There was no hoax," Smollett said, per the AP. He said a $3,500 check he had given Bola Osundairo was for nutrition and training advice, not for staging a racist, homophobic attack. He also said a text message referring to "on the low" was a reference to secrecy around a request to buy a banned herbal supplement, not the attack. Prosecutors have argued that Smollett staged the attack because Empire producers didn't take a threatening letter against him seriously. The actor said Monday that he had been happy at the show and had refused an offer of extra security, which would have included a ride from his home to the set each day, because he didn't "need to be driven around like Miss Daisy." (Smollett's lawyers say he is the "real victim.")