AP NEWS

Tyler Perry holds out hope that Jussie Smollett story isn’t a hoax: ‘He’s so convincing’

March 19, 2019

Tyler Perry isn’t backing away from actor Jussie Smollett despite charges of felony disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.

The star of “Madea on the Run” isn’t distancing himself from the “Empire” star the story of a Jan. 29 racist and homophobic “MAGA country” attack in Chicago. Mr. Perry told NBC’s “Today” show that Mr. Smollett is “so convincing” that he has adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude.

Mr. Smollett, a black gay man, captured national headlines for weeks after claiming he was attacked with fists, rope, and bleach by two supporters of President Trump in frigid weather at 2:00 a.m.

Authorities watched hundreds of hours of surveillance footage during their investigation, which led them to brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. The men say they were hired by the actor for an orchestrated attack.

“Listen, he is so adamant about it,” Mr. Perry said Monday. “And he’s so convincing in his story that I’m just hoping and standing with him hoping that it all turns out in his favor for sure.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says otherwise.

“There’s a lot more evidence that hasn’t been presented yet, and does not support the version he gave,” Mr. Johnson told ABC’s Robin Roberts on Monday. “There’s still a lot of physical evidence, video evidence and testimony that just simply does not support his version of what happened. ... It’s important for people to recognize that it’s not the Chicago Police Department saying he did something, it’s the evidence, the facts, and the witnesses that are saying this.”

The charges against Mr. Smollett could land him in prison for three years if he is convicted.

Does @tylerperry believe Jussie Smollett is telling the truth? @hodakotb and @craigmelvin ask pic.twitter.com/llYcP0RjjF TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 27, 2019