(NBC) – The brothers who Chicago police say was paid by Jussie Smollett to attack him in a staged hate crime to bolster his career filed a federal lawsuit against the “Empire” actor’s attorneys claiming they made defamatory comments.
In the 16-page suit filed Tuesday in the Northern District of Illinois, brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo accuse lawyers Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian of making “public defamatory statements” against them after Chicago prosecutors dropped charges against Smollett.
The suit also claims that Smollett staged the attack because he “wanted his employer and the public to notice and appreciate him as a successful Black, openly gay actor.”
“We will no longer sit back and allow these lies to continue,” the brothers said in a statement read by their attorney, Gloria Schmidt, at a news conference.
According to the complaint, shortly the charges were dismissed, Glandian said during TV interviews and on a podcast that Smollett was innocent and Ola and Abel “criminally attacked” the actor. She also falsely accused the brothers of wearing whiteface during the January 29 assault and implied that Abel had a brief homosexual relationship with Smollett, according to the lawsuit.
Geragos, according to the suit, “falsely stated that he could not think of anyone else who committed the hate crime.”
Geragos and Glandian did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment.
The actor told police that his attackers hurled racial and homophobic slurs before beating him, tying a noose around his neck and pouring what he said was bleach on him.
The brothers were arrested in February after they were seen on an image taken from a surveillance camera walking away from the area where Smollett, who is black and gay, said he was attacked on January 29 by two masked men.
Days after the brothers’ arrest, they were released by police as the probe shifted into whether the actor orchestrated the assault, on himself.
Smollett, 36, was labeled a suspect in the investigation and arrested in February. The following month, he was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly making a false report in an assault police called a hoax.
According to the Chicago Police Department, Smollett paid the brothers — who have ties to the show “Empire” — $3,500 via a check to attack him because he was unhappy with his salary on the Fox TV show.
The charges against Smollett were dropped weeks later by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, but the lawsuit states the actor’s legal team continued to accuse the Osundairo brothers of lying.
“We want to end these malicious attacks and ensure that those responsible for continuing to destroy the reputation of the Chicago police department, city of Chicago and that of brothers are held accountable,” the brother’s attorney said at the news conference.
Schmidt said that Ola and Abel know what they did was wrong, but did not take part in defrauding the Chicago Police Department.
“They were asked to do something by a friend that they trusted and at the end of the day that friend betrayed them,” she said.
As a result of Geragos and Glandian’s remarks, the Osundairo brothers “have suffered significant emotional distress and feel unsafe and alienated in their local Chicago community,” the lawsuit states. They are seeking unspecified damages.