Corrections and clarifications: The headline of this story was updated to reflect that the Osundairo brothers are accused of carrying out the attack against Jussie Smollett.
The two brothers who say "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett paid them to stage his Jan. 29 assault announced Tuesday that they have filed a federal defamation lawsuit against his legal team, including celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.
Abimbola "Bola" (also known as Abel) and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo didn't appear at the Chicago press conference to announce the lawsuit against Geragos and one of his partners, Tina Glandian.
Gloria Schmidt, the Chicago attorney who represented them when they were declared suspects and arrested by Chicago police in February, presided over the affair. She said her two clients "deserve to have their reputations restored" and read a statement from the brothers.
"We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media, only so one big lie can continue to have life," the Osundairos' statement read. "These lies are destroying our character and reputation... Anyone who knows us know we do not have hate, that is not who we are... We will no longer sit back and allow these lies to continue."
The lawsuit, obtained by USA TODAY, asserts that after the collapse of the criminal case against Smollett in late March, Geragos and Glandian defamed the Osundairo brothers multiple times in public statements and in the media, claiming they "criminally attacked" and "criminally battered" the actor and that they may have been wearing "whiteface" during the attack.
In addition, the lawsuit argues that Glandian "falsely stated that the brothers are involved in illegal steroid trafficking," and that she inferred in a podcast interview that one of the brothers engaged in sex with Smollett.
"Bola Osundairo is heterosexual and was dating a woman at the time," the lawsuit counters. As a Nigerian American who often visits family in Nigeria, where homosexuality is illegal, such statements endanger him, the lawsuit says.
All of these statements, the lawsuit says, were made at a "high cost" to the brothers, including damage to their careers, loss of their contracts with talent agents and "irreparable financial damage."
As a result, the lawsuit says, the brothers have "suffered significant emotional distress and feel unsafe and alienated in their local Chicago community" due to the lawyers' statements that they had "committed a gruesome hate crime, lied under oath and intentionally misled" the Chicago police.
On Feb. 16, shortly before police would have had to file charges or release them, the Osundairo brothers told detectives that Smollett had paid them to stage the attack, in which they beat him, hurled homophobic and racist slurs, draped a noose around his neck and shouted a President Trump campaign slogan.
They were released and later testified before a grand jury, which on March 8 indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of lying to police about the attack.
Weeks later, on March 26, prosecutors dropped all the charges against Smollett. The sudden reversal prompted cries of outrage from city officials and police, who maintained that Smollett enlisted the brothers, whom he hired as personal trainers, to stage the attack to help raise his profile and his salary on "Empire."
After the charges were dropped, Smollett claimed he had been exonerated, which wasn't the case, and he continues to assert his innocence in the alleged hoax.
"Mr. Smollett's attorneys, faced with an outraged public, did not retreat after their success. Instead they doubled down, not simply affirming that Mr. Smollett was a wholly innocent victim, but that (the brothers) unequivocally led a criminally homophobic, racist, and violent attack against Mr. Smollett," the lawsuit says. "(Geragos and Glandian) made these comments knowing they were untrue to distract from Mr. Smollett's farce and to promote themselves and (their law firm)."
The city has since demanded that Smollett repay them over $131,000 for the overtime cost of the police investigation. He has refused. On April 4, the city said it was preparing to file a lawsuit to recover the money.
The Osundairo brothers, both born and raised in Chicago, are seeking a jury trial for their lawsuit.
"They told the truth, they could have remained silent, but they told the truth to the police and to the grand jury," Schmidt said at the press conference. "We want to make sure the lies and malice attacking our city, our police department and my clients are met with truth and healing."
Neither Geragos nor Glandian could be immediately reached for comment.
Jussie Smollett case timeline: How he went from victim to suspect and then was cleared of all charges
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jussie Smollett case: Brothers accused of carrying out attack sue actor's legal team for defamation