Jurnee Smollet is speaking out about her older brother, Jussie Smollett, being accused of staging a hate crime in January in 2019.
In an August 5 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jurnee says, "[It's] one of the most painful things my family's ever experienced -- to love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating. I was already in a very dark space for a number of reasons, and I've tried to not let it make me pessimistic."
She added, "But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother… "We are blessed to have a community of people who know him. And know that he wouldn't do this.”
Jussie Smollett was hospitalized briefly after an alleged racist and homophobic attack on January 29, 2019 near his Streeterville apartment in Chicago. Initially, authorities investigated the matter as a hate crime, but eventually their suspicions turned to Smollett, believing he staged the incident.
The former Empire star was charged with 16 felony counts, but eventually all charges were dropped.
However, in February 2020, special prosecutor Dan Webb said in a statement that Smollett was charged with "making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime." As a result, the 37-year-old will face six counts of disorderly conduct.
Webb also stated the investigation concluded that "further prosecution of Jussie Smollett is 'in the interest of justice."
Jussie Smollett continues to maintain his innocence.
(Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)