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Democratic Party News
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PARIS (AP) — Still struggling to come to terms with their share of responsibility in the clerical sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church, France's bishops have agreed to award financial compensation to victims whose cases fall outside of France's statute of limitations.
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One of America's leading black television actors has been charged with staging a racist attack on himself in a "despicable publicity stunt" which he hoped would get him a raise on his $65,000-an-episode salary. Jussie Smollett, 36, who stars in "Empire," was accused by police in Chicago of "exploiting the pain and anger of racism" in a "shameful" attempt to boost his own profile. The saga began on Jan 29 when the actor reported that he had been attacked by two white men who put a noose around his neck and yelled "This is MAGA country," a reference to Donald Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again". Following his arrest the US president wrote on Twitter: "Jussie Smollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? MAGA." The actor, who is gay, also claimed his attackers hurled homophobic insults at him during the incident at 2am in downtown Chicago. Police charged him with making a false statement, which could lead to a sentence of up to three years in jail if convicted. A mugshot showed him staring impassively at the camera. This photo released by the Chicago Police Department shows Jussie Smollett Credit: AP In a press conference Eddie Johnson, Chicago's police superintendent, lambasted the star, accusing him of "dragging Chicago through the mud" by "staging a hate crime". Mr Johnson, who is black, said: "Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary. When we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it p----d everybody off. "I'm left hanging my head asking why? Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false allegations. I'm offended by what's happened. and I'm also angry." Smollett's legal team issued a statement on Thursday night, calling the actor a "man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence." The statement also said Mr Johnson's press conference was "an organised law enforcement spectacle." Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at Chicago police headquarters about the arrest of Empire actor Jussie Smollett Credit: Getty "The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett," the statement read. Hollywood trade publication Variety reported that Smollett returned to the set of "Empire" - a drama about a music empire and a family dynasty - after being released by police on Thursday. The actor reportedly made a salary of $65,000 per episode for the last season of Empire, which follows the story of a family in the recording industry. There were 18 episodes, putting his annual salary at well over $1 million. Mr Johnson detailed how the actor had allegedly first sent a threatening, racist and homophobic letter to himself at the studios of Fox, which makes Empire. He then allegedly paid $3,500 to a pair of Nigerian brothers - Abel Osundairo and Ola Osundairo - who had previously appeared as extras on Empire to carry out the fake attack. Jussie Smollett timeline Police said he had hoped it would be caught on CCTV, but a nearby camera was pointed in the wrong direction. However, CCTV did capture the two brothers, who are black, fleeing the scene and getting in a taxi. They went to Chicago's O'Hare Airport, where they boarded a flight to Nigeria. Detectives established they had return tickets and arrested them at the airport when they came back on Feb 13. CCTV also emerged of the brothers buying ski masks and a red MAGA-style hat before the attack. But after two days of questioning the brothers were released without charge. Their lawyer said they had "manned up" and confessed the plot, including the actor's alleged motive to get a bigger salary. Police said they had established through phone records that the actor spoke to the brothers an hour before, and an h our after, the attack. Interview with actor Jussie Smollett on ABC's "Good Morning America" Credit: Getty Mr Johnson, the Chicago police chief, called on the actor to apologise to the city and pay the costs of the investigation, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. He added: "I’ll continue to pray for this troubled young man who resorted to both drastic and illegal tactics to gain attention."
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