Prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois have dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett relating to allegations that he lied to police about being the victim of a hate crime, according to The Chicago Tribune.
In March, the 36-year-old Empire actor was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. Smollett was accused of orchestrating his own attack in an effort to increase his notoriety in the entertainment industry and secure a larger salary on Empire.
Less than a month later, prosecutors have made a stunning about-face, agreeing to drop all charges against Smollett in exchange for community service and the forfeiture of his $10,000 bond. “We believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the Cook County’s State’s Attorney’s office said in a statement.
In their own statement, Sollett’s attorneys said, “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. 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,” the statement continued. “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.”
Smollett has maintained that he was the victim of a hate crime outside of a Subway restaurant in downtown Chicago during the early morning hours of January 29th. Smollett, who is openly gay, described his assailants as white men wearing ski masks, who asked Smollett if he was “that f***ot Empire n*****?” before attacking him with a rope and bleach. As they fled the scene, Smollett claimed the the men yelled, “This is MAGA country!”
Following a lengthy investigation, prosecutors concluded that Smollett had himself staged the attack with the assistance of Nigerian brothers and Empire extras Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo. In a bond proffer filed at an initial hearing, prosecutors detailed an alleged scheme which began with Smollett mailing himself a threatening letter. When that failed to garner attention, prosecutors said Smollett paid $3,500 to the Osundairo brothers to participate in a faux hate crime, which included the purchasing of rope, gasoline, ski masks, and red hats in the style of Trump’s MAGA hat. Smollett contended that the $3,500 was reimbursement for a fitness and nutrition regime.
Following news of Smollett’s indictment, he was written out of the final two episodes of Empire. Now, though, it seems Smollett is being welcomed back to the show with open arms, and is expected to be on set beginning Wednesday.
— Empire Writers (@EmpireWriters) March 26, 2019