The brothers, who Jussie Smollett allegedly paid to stage a “bogus” hate crime attack against him, have issued a public apology.
Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo’s attorney released a statement to CBS Chicago Thursday, saying that the two men felt “tremendous regret” for being involved with the situation.
They also apologized for the negative impact it may have had on people across the country, particularly for those who were victims of hate crimes.
“My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” the statement read.
In the initial report about the alleged hate attack, Smollett claimed to police that he’d been physically attacked on the street in his downtown Chicago neighborhood around 2 a.m. local time on Jan. 29 by two black-clad, masked men who used racist and homophobic slurs, doused him with an “unknown chemical substance” and left him with a rope around his neck.
Abel and Ola — who were seen on surveillance footage the night of the incident and later questioned by police — were arrested two weeks ago but were eventually released after telling them about the alleged hoax.
An attorney for the Osundairo brothers, Gloria Schmidt, previously told CBS Chicago that they knew Smollett from working on Empire and go to the same gym on occasion.
Schmidt did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Authorities believe the actor paid the men to stage a “bogus” hate crime attack against him to draw attention to himself because Smollett was dissatisfied with his salary — a claim he denies.
Smollett was arrested on Feb. 21. He presented in bond court and was charged that same day, where a judge set his bond at $100,000 and requested that he surrender his passport.
Text messages between Smollett and the Osundairo brothers that were read in court also detailed how the 45-second attack was to be allegedly orchestrated.
Smollett was released after posting bond. He is currently facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct. If convicted, he could serve up to three years in prison. His next hearing is scheduled for March 14.
Throughout the ordeal, Smollett has maintained his innocence. In a statement released by his attorneys on Feb. 21, the actor’s legal team said that “presumption of innocence … was trampled upon” in the Empire star’s case.
Smollett’s attorneys said that they are gearing up to launch an aggressive defense to fight the charge.
“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing,” the statement read.
In the meantime, Smollett’s Empire character Jamal Lyon has since been removed from the final two episodes of season 5 to “avoid further disruption on set,” the Fox show’s executive producers said in a statement.
At this time, it is not clear if the Osundairo brothers will face any charges.
Joellle Goldstein via People.com