Actor Jussie Smollett said on Monday that he did indeed take back a white pill after he drank several vodka and tequila shots at a Chicago nightclub before singing at the Fox Theater on Jan. 29. The 36-year-old “Empire” star testified in a court room at Cook County Criminal Court about details of his arrest on charges of filing a false police report about being the victim of a hate crime on Jan. 29, when he said two masked men jumped out of a van and yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him.
Before the prosecutors finished questioning Smollett on Monday, he was the subject of one of the lawyer’s most personal attacks. Loyola University Law School professor and courtroom expert Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, brought up the fact that the actor had tweeted about needling rumors of him being gay. Smollett had posted online, “good day… Sending love to my homies on the other side,” Levenson said. “It’s an easy thing to do, but it just doesn’t make sense that a straight, white dude in America would be gossiping about a black man.”
When the judge asked why the actor’s client, Jonathan Fitzgerald, told Chicago police that the two masked men who attacked him were white, Fitzgerald said: “As far as I knew, those were African-American actors and actresses.” When Fitzgerald was asked if he had called police to report the incident, Fitzgerald replied: “I called police at 2:17 am, and that’s the first time I called police.”
On cross-examination, Fitzgerald said that when the investigators went to Smollett’s car, the actor had been drinking but had no idea that they were looking for a “self-harm kit.”
Smollett also testified that his friend Robert Porro had masturbated in his car before he visited Porro’s house in the early morning of Jan. 29, the night before he first said two masked men attacked him in the early morning. Smollett said that, about two hours later, he found his friend naked in his bed.
“He started cleaning a sock that had his underwear in it,” Smollett testified. Porro said “who cares,” Smollett recalled. “I said, ‘You got my panties.’”
Sylvia Poggioli, the business manager of Smollett’s production company, was the only producer to appear on the stand before Smollett. Poggioli said she only managed Smollett for a few months, but said she had “began suspecting that some staff members were doing other things” and added, “I mean, I was shocked.” When Poggioli saw “treatment and instruction given to [Smollett’s] co-workers” and “things I couldn’t figure out,” she decided to report the matter to Chicago police, who asked Smollett to backtrack about the incident in the theater, where he was working.
Poggioli explained how she had been concerned after Smollett sent an email to him and others saying, “You f-g maggots, I want you to die.” He also had told her that he “had been messing around with [a phone] on his nightstand that night.” Smollett was not in possession of the phone, and it was not usable to further investigation, because it was never turned in to his tour manager.
‘Empire’ star’s paid interview with ‘Today’ to air soon
Empire’s Jussie Smollett sues ABC for $50 million over canceled show
‘Empire’s Jussie Smollett: ‘I am disappointed, frustrated and angry’