Abimbola (Abel) and Olabinjo (Ola) Osundairo, the Nigerian-American brothers who claim that they helped to stage a fake hate crime in collusion with actor Jussie Smollett, are reportedly expressing “regret” for their involvement in the incident.
“They understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” read a statement from their attorney, Gloria Schmidt, as reported by Fox News.
The Osundairo brothers were first considered persons of interest in the case. However, after they were brought in for questioning by Chicago police, the focus of the investigation shifted to Smollett. The 36-year-old Empire cast member was arrested on February 21 on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.
Smollett maintains that he is innocent of all charges. As CNN also notes, on the day of his arrest, he returned to the set of Empire to apologize to the cast and crew for negative attention the story had attracted and to assert that he did not stage the attack. He was later suspended from the show and was axed from the last two episodes of the upcoming season.
Insiders on Smollett’s side claim that he has evidence to prove that he’s telling the truth. TMZ previously reported that the check he allegedly used to pay for the attack states that the payment was for a nutrition program on its memo line. Their sources from the actor’s camp claim that Jussie wanted to lose weight ahead of a video shoot for his song, “Don’t Go,” where he planned to be shirtless. According to TMZ, there are also text messages which show Smollett communicating with Abel Osundairo about meal and exercise plans.
The brothers who allegedly took part in what police say was a staged attack on actor Jussie Smollett are expressing "tremendous regret" for their involvement https://t.co/UGKNhZgTx9 pic.twitter.com/WLXP6XXN9a
— CNN (@CNN) March 1, 2019
Police have also accused Jussie Smollett of sending himself a racist letter before the attack. But as TMZ notes, the FBI has not definitively concluded that he sent the letter.
Smollett was released on bail and he now awaits his first day in court on March 14. On the day he was arrested, his defense team issued a statement decrying the actions of the Chicago Police Department.
“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a mayoral election,” the statement read, as published by Yahoo News. “Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”