The ongoing drama of Jussie Smollett, the embattled Empire actor accused of faking a hate crime in early 2019, has taken another strange turn. A new report alleges that Smollett knew one of his attackers from a Chicago bathhouse.
Smollett claims that in January 2019, two men attacked him wearing ski masks and “MAGA” hats, while shouting homophobic slurs. The two men allegedly beat the actor and doused him in bleach and tied a noose around his neck. Two weeks after the attack, police arrested Abel & Ola Osundario, Nigerian-born brothers as possible suspects in the case. The two men provided evidence that Smollett had paid them to stage the attack. Police then charged Smollett with falsifying a police report. The actor continues to maintain his innocence in the matter, and that he was the victim of a genuine hate crime.
Now The New York Post reports that an unnamed source familiar with the case has pointed to a Chicago bathhouse as a possible break in the case. According to the source, Abel Osundario allegedly met Smollett at the bathhouse, and the two began a sexual relationship. “They used to party together and he had a sexual relationship with [Abel]. They went to this affluent Chicago bathhouse multiple times and they had to show ID. It’s known as a bathhouse where a lot of affluent black gay men hang out. There should be a record [of their visits],” the source claims.
If true, the bathhouse connection could provide an important break in the case, as police could subpoena records to underline the connection between Abel Osundario and Smollett, as well as possible witnesses in the case. Lawyers for Smollett had previously implied that their client had a sexual relationship with at least one of the Osundario brothers; an allegation which the pair deny. The brothers filed a defamation suit against Smollett’s lawyers for implying they are queer. A judge dismissed the case last month.
Jussie Smollett admits to having paid Abel & Ola Osundario $3,500 for personal training services and performance-enhancing drugs. The brothers, however, insist that the payment was to help stage the hate crime.
At present, the city of Chicago has sued Smollett for making false statements and for overtime costs for the original hate crime investigation. Smollett continues to maintain his innocence.