Jussie Smollett is facing prison time and the implosion of his career if it turns out he lied about being the target of a hate crime, legal and public relations experts say.
“The best thing that Jussie can do is pray and pray a lot,” said Ronn Torossian, founder of 5W Public Relations. “If he made it up, he has big problems in both the court of law and the court of public opinion.”
The “Empire” star claimed he was beaten up on Jan. 29 by two men who used racial and homophobic slurs. Smollett’s co-stars and colleagues on “Empire,” celebrities such as Ellen Page and Zendaya, and public figures such as Sen. Kamala Harris rallied behind the actor, releasing statements of support. However, Smollett’s account is now being challenged, with police investigating whether or not he paid two acquaintances, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, to stage the attack.