Jussie Smollett took to the witness stand on Monday to testify in his own defense, after he was charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying to Chicago police about a hate crime that occurred in 2019.

The gay and black Empire actor has denied allegations that he staged the January 2019 hate crime, which included two men putting a noose around his neck, pouring an unknown substance on him and yelling “MAGA” (a reference to former President Donald Trump‘s Make America Great Again slogan), homophobic and racist slurs.

Last week, the two black men who were allegedly involved in the attack testified that they were paid $3,500 by Smollett and given $100 to buy supplies to carry it out. Authorities say the men, brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, were given specific directions by Smollett before the attack and had rehearsed with him on the same corner the attack occurred. Prosecutors said texts show that Smollett had told the brothers, “Might need your help on the low. You around to talk face to face?” four days before the incident.

Smollett’s defense team argued that the brothers were accusing the actor of faking the attack because they didn’t like him and wanted to make more money off of him. They said that the brothers had asked Smollett for $1 million each in order to not testify against him on trial.

On the stand Monday, Smollett, 39, spoke about his childhood, figuring out his sexuality in his 20s, and auditioning for his role on Empire.

He testified that he was not friends with Olabingo, and didn’t view him as someone he could trust, saying, “he kind of creeped me out.”

Smollett said he had a different relationship with Abimbola though, and claimed the pair had done drugs together in a Chicago bathhouse and made out. On another occasion, the three men had gone out to a female strip club, but Smollett said he and “Bon” snuck away from “Ola,” got a private room, and “made out a little bit, masturbated together.” Abimbola denied the sexual events occurred in earlier testimony last week.

Last week, prosecutors also alleged that Smollett had orchestrated the attack because he had received hate mail, but didn’t like the Empire studio’s response. In the threatening letter, a stick figure hangs from a noose with a gun pointed at it. The letter also includes the word MAGA. Empire producer Brett Mahoney said that after Smollett told him about the letter. They reported it to the police, and agreed that the actor would receive additional security while on set.

Smollett could face up to three years in prison if he is found guilty of six charges of felony disorderly conduct, but experts say if he’s found guilty he would most likely be put on probation and given community service.

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