The New York Times reports that prosecutors have dropped all charges against Empire star Jussie Smollett in a stunning court hearing on Tuesday, just weeks after he was indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report about being the victim of an alleged hate-crime attack that occurred in downtown Chicago in January.
Following Smollett’s court appearance, his attorneys released a statement saying that the actor’s “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,” the statement read.
“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.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said in statement, “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’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.”
Smollett had informed police on January 29 that he was attacked by two masked men while he was getting food in Downtown Chicago. The actor, who is black and gay, said his attackers hurled racist and homophobic slurs before attacking, then proceeded to put a noose around his neck and poured a liquid substance on him, which was revealed to be bleach.
Brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, both known to Smollett, were arrested in February as police investigated the alleged assault but were later released by police. They initially told investigators that Smollett had paid them to stage the attack on him as a way to gain publicity because he was unhappy with his Empire salary, however, Jussie Smollett denied the brothers’ accounts.
Furthermore, Smollet’s role on Fox’s Empire, where he played Jamal Lyon, was cut from the final episodes of the fifth season “to avoid further disruption on set,” the show’s executive producers said in a joint statement in February. It is unclear, however, if Fox will reverse their decision in light of this stunning report.