In his first interview since his alleged assault, Empire actor Jussie Smollett is denying that his alleged attack was motivated by a “date gone bad,” calling the suggestion “ridiculous” and “offensive.”
“I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” Smollett told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in a sit-down that aired Thursday morning. “I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.”
“Yes, there’s Grindr. Yes, there’s jacked. There’s all of these things, which i have not been on in years,” he continued. “I can admit I was on it back in the day. I was single, you know what i’m saying? But i haven’t been on that in years.”
Smollett told police he was attacked January 29 by two masked people who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, also told police that his attackers doused him with an unknown chemical substance and looped a thin rope tied like a noose around his neck. The actor said that before they ran off, the attackers yelled, “This is MAGA country, ” a reference to the “Make America Great Again” slogan President Donald Trump uses.
Smollett and his family have insisted that he has been truthful about the attack and his story has not changed since it happened. “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” the actor said in a statement to ESSENCE magazine. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
His remarks are the latest in a back-and-forth between Smollett and police since he reported the attack. Police have made no arrests and said they have found no surveillance video that shows the attack. They have released video of two people in the area at the time who they said were persons of interest.
However, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Monday that the phone records turned over by Smollett are in a heavily redacted document file and the records from the manager Smollett says he was talking to when the attack occurred were a screenshot of phone calls. He says the records aren’t sufficient for an investigation. “We are very appreciative of the victim’s cooperation however the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation as they were limited and heavily redacted,” Guglielmi said. “Detectives may be following up with him to request additional data to corroborate the investigative timeline.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.