Jurnee Smollett-Bell, the sister of Jussie Smollett, is speaking out for the first time about her brother’s alleged hate crime hoax.
In an interview published Wednesday, the “Lovecraft Country” actress told The Hollywood Reporter that it has "been ------- painful" for her family to see their loved one receive such intense public scrutiny.
"One of the most painful things my family's ever experienced — to love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating," the “Birds of Prey” star said.
While Jurnee was "already in a very dark space for a number of reasons," she said she has tried not to let her brother's situation make her "pessimistic."
Despite the allegations against him, Jurnee continues to defend her brother amid the controversy.
"Everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother," she declared.
In March 2019, Jussie, known for playing Jamal Lyon on the Fox drama “Empire,” was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime on January 29 in Chicago.
After pleading not guilty, all of the charges against him were dropped later that month.
This February, Jussie was indicted again on six counts pertaining to making four false police reports. He pleaded not guilty to the renewed charges.
"I don't claim to be innocent, I am innocent,” he told TMZ at the time.
In June, a Chicago judge shot down Jussie’s claim that his February charges violated the principle of double jeopardy.
Jussie has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.