The sister of disgraced “Empire” star Jussie Smollett is speaking out to defend him this week as many Americans continue to believe that he faked a hate crime against himself.

“It’s been f***ing painful,” actress Jurnee Smollett told the Hollywood Reporter of her brother being accused of falsely reporting a hate crime. “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.”

Back in January of 2019, Smollett claimed that he was jumped by two men in Chicago, with them putting a noose around his neck. He alleged that the men hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him while also shouting “this is MAGA country.”

After launching an investigation, however, police concluded that Smollett staged the hate crime and paid the two men to jump him in the hopes that the publicity from the event would earn him a higher salary on “Empire.”

Jurnee said that she was “already in a very dark space for a number of reasons,” and that she tried not to let her brother’s scandal make her “pessimistic.”

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“But everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother,” said Jurnee. “We are blessed to have a community of people who know him, and know that he wouldn’t do this.”

Smollett was initially hit with many charges last year related to him allegedly staging a hate crime against himself, but all of these charges were inexplicably dropped. Special prosecutor Dan Webb was then brought in to look over the case, and he decide to hit Smollett with six charges earlier this year, with the actor pleading not guilty to all of them.

Back in June, Smollett got bad news when a judge tossed out his attempts to have the new charges dismissed because of double jeopardy laws, which state that a person can’t be tried for the same crime twice. Cook County Judge James Linn ended up ruling that these laws do not come into play in this case.

“There was no trial in this case, there was no jury empaneled, no witnesses were sworn, no evidence was heard, no guilty pleas were ever entered … nothing like that ever happened,” Judge Linn said of last year’s case. “There was no adjudication of this case.”

This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.

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