On the heels of accusations that actor Jussie Smollett staged a hate crime he claimed occurred last month, a prominent LGBT advocate in Michigan is facing similar allegations.
Police say 54-year-old Nikki Joly, a transgender man named Jackson’s top citizen by the local newspaper for his social activism, is now facing criminal charges related to setting fire to his own home and killing five pets in the process.
He claimed the incident two years ago was a hate crime, but investigators say the evidence shows he is the likely arsonist. Sources cited in a police report said Joly had expressed disappointment over the fact that a recent LGBT pride parade did not attract more attention for the cause.
Defense attorney Daniel Barnett and a number of local supporters continue to plead his innocence.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Barnett said of the charges against his client. “He was citizen of the year. There was plenty of media coverage already before the fire.”