Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said Tuesday that charges alleging he lied to police about a racist and homophobic attack have been dropped.
Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement that Smollett’s record “has been wiped clean.”
The actor, who is black and gay, was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men.
A spokeswoman for Cook County, Illinois, prosecutors didn’t immediately respond to messages requesting comment.
However, WBBM-TV in Chicago reported the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said in an email, “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”
Police and prosecutors have said the black and gay actor falsely reported to authorities that he was attacked around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago because he was unhappy with his pay on the Fox show and to promote his career.
Smollett plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show that follows a black family navigating the ups and downs of the recording industry.
Smollett reported that he had been attacked on his way home from a sandwich shop.
He said two masked men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, beat him and looped a rope around his neck.
Smollett claimed they shouted, “This is MAGA country” — a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
He asserted that he could see one of the men was white because he could see the skin around his eyes.
Police said Smollett hired two men, both of whom are black, to attack him. Smollett paid the men $3,500, according to police.
The men are brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, and one of them had worked on “Empire.”
An attorney for the brothers said they agreed to help Smollett because of their friendship with him and the sense that he was helping their careers.
Smollett’s spokeswoman said Tuesday his record would be “fully expunged.”
“Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” spokeswoman Anne Kavanaugh said in an email, according to WBBM. “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement.
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.
“Jussie is relieved to have this situation behind him and is very much looking forward to getting back to focusing on his family, friends and career.”
Police have also said that before the attack, Smollett sent a letter that threatened him to the Chicago studio where “Empire” is shot.
The FBI, which is investigating that letter, has declined to comment on the investigation.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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