Nigerian brothers: Smollett's lawyers smeared them after charges vs Smollett dropped, endangered their family

By Jonathan Bilyk | Apr 23, 2019

The Nigerian brothers at the heart of the alleged hate crime hoax involving actor Jussie Smollett have sued Smollett’s attorneys, asserting the lawyers’ statements to the press about the fake attack and the brothers following the decision to drop charges against Smollett have destroyed the brothers’ reputation, cost them career opportunities and even endangered their lives and the lives of their families in Nigeria.

On April 23, Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo Osundairo filed a complaint in Chicago federal court against celebrity attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, and the firm of Geragos & Geragos, of Los Angeles.

In the complaint, the Osundairo brothers accuse Geragos and Glandian of defamation and “false light” for telling reporters for numerous news organizations, including during widely viewed interviews on live, network television, that Smollett’s claims were true and the brothers had attacked him on the streets of Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood in January.

The complaint also demands Glandian be held liable for saying in some of those interviews the brothers engaged in gay sex acts with Smollett. The brothers said the allegedly false statements place their safety and the safety of their families in Nigeria at risk, as homosexual conduct is illegal in the African nation and can be punished by death.


Tina Glandian   Geragos & Geragos

The complaint centers on the aftermath of the decision, purportedly by the deputies of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, to drop a 16-count grand jury indictment against Smollett stemming from the actor’s decision to file allegedly false reports to Chicago Police in which he claimed he was attacked by white male assailants he claimed were supporters of President Donald Trump and who Smollett claimed had targeted him because he was a black, openly gay actor.

“Mr. Smollett’s attorneys, faced with an outraged public, did not retreat after their success,” the brothers said in their lawsuit. “Instead they doubled down, not simply affirming that Mr. Smollett was a wholly innocent victim, but that (among other accusations) Plaintiffs unequivocally led a criminally homophobic, racist, and violent attack against Mr. Smollett.

“Defendants made these comments knowing they were untrue to distract from Mr. Smollett’s farce and to promote themselves and the Geragos & Geragos Law Firm.”

Smollett was charged by a grand jury after police spent days reconstructing and checking Smollett’s story against available surveillance video footage, cell phone records, GPS data, interviews and other evidence.

Smollett had a recurring role on the Fox television network series “Empire.” In January, Smollett claimed he was attacked in the very early morning pre-dawn hours in Streeterville by two white men shouting “This is MAGA Country!” – a reference to Trump and his political supporters. According to Smollett’s account, his alleged assailants beat him, poured bleach on him and hung a noose around his neck, while shouting racist and homophobic epithets.

Following the alleged incident, Smollett’s story was repeated and amplified around the U.S. and the world, with celebrities and prominent Democratic politicians, including many who are running for president of the United States, rushing to express sympathy for Smollett and use the alleged incident to attack their political opponents.

However, within days, the narrative turned, as the police investigation resulted in the indictment against Smollett, claiming he fabricated a hoax, hiring the Osundairo brothers to pose as his attackers.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, led by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, however, shocked and outraged many three weeks later by abruptly dropping charges.

Following the dismissal, Smollett and his attorneys trumpeted the dismissal, accusing the Chicago Police of smearing Smollett’s name in the process and asserting Smollett had told the truth, despite the evidence purportedly accumulated by police investigators.

The city of Chicago responded with a lawsuit against Smollett, demanding he be made to pay as much as $300,000 or more to compensate the city and taxpayers for the funds associated with the massive investigation of his alleged hoax. That lawsuit is pending in Cook County Circuit Court.

When questioned further by reporters, however, Smollett’s attorneys with the Geragos firm stated in interviews the brothers were behind the alleged attack on Smollett. The lawyers further said it was possible the brothers had worn “whiteface” during the attack, to make them appear as white males.

The brothers said the accusations have “caused considerable damage” the Osundairo’s careers, as they were attempting to land roles in television series, like “Empire.” The complaint claims the brothers “have lost talent agent contracts and career opportunities” as a result of the Geragos attorneys statements.

The lawsuit further asserts Glandian, while on the podcast “Reasonable Doubt,” “inferred Bola (Abel) Osundairo and Mr. Smollett engaged, at least briefly, in homosexual acts together.” According to the complaint, Abel Osundairo “is heterosexual and was dating a woman at the time” and “has never engaged in any sexual acts with Mr. Smollett.”

The complaint notes “same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria,” and can carry sentences of 14 years in prison or even “death by stoning.”

“Ms. Glandian’s globally broadcasted statements that Bola Osundairo is homosexual endangers him and the lives of his Nigerian family,” the complaint said.

The brothers further objected to statements Glandian made on that same podcast, allegedly asserting the brothers sold “illegal Nigerian steroids” through a fitness business they run.

The lawsuit notes the attorneys’ statements concerning the alleged Smollett hoax and the brothers’ alleged activities were made “after the close of Mr. Smollett’s criminal case, did not serve any legal function, and were not a requirement of her job as a defense attorney.”

The brothers are represented in the action by attorneys Gregory E. Kulis and Monica Ghosh of the firm of Gregory E. Kulis & Associates Ltd., of Chicago; attorney James D. Tunick, of Chicago; and attorneys Gloria V. Schmidt and Jorge A. Rodriguez, of The Gloria Law Group, of Chicago.

 

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Organizations in this Story

Circuit Court of Cook County Geragos & Geragos Gregory E. Kulis & Associates Ltd. Law Office of C W Graul/Jim Tunick State's Attorney Cook County U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

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