CHICAGO (CNN) — Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
The brothers, who were arrested Wednesday, were released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.” The sources told CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.
Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
The sources told CNN that there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at an Ace Hardware store in Chicago.
Smollett gave his first detailed account of what he says was a hate crime against him, and the aftermath, in an interview with “Good Morning America” that aired Thursday. During the interview he expressed frustration at not being believed.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” Smollett said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.”
CNN’s attempts to reach both Smollett’s representative and attorney Saturday were unsuccessful.
Sources also told CNN that the brothers were allegedly paid $3,500 by Smollett before they left for Nigeria and were due to receive $500 more upon their return. (It was unclear if it was $3,500 a piece).
The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday evening quoted Smollett’s attorneys who reportedly said their client “is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.”
The statement continued, “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Smollett’s attorneys went on to describe one of the brothers as a personal trainer that Smollett worked with to get in shape for a music video. “It is impossible to believe this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity,” the statement reportedly said.
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