Less than three weeks after Jussie Smollett was indicted on multiple felony counts, prosecutors have dropped all charges against the Empire actor.
(UPDATE: Smollett gives emotional statement after charges are dropped — watch video here.)
Two of Smollett’s attorneys, Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes, confirmed the development in a statement on Tuesday. Read it below:
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,” the statement reads. “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29. 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 judgment. 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.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office also released the following statement after the charges were dropped: “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.”
On March 8, a Chicago grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts, related to the actor’s alleged staging of a hate crime against himself in January. Smollett reportedly told police that two men approached him and began hurling racist and homophobic slurs at him, then placed a noose around his neck and doused him with a chemical substance, believed to be bleach. Smollett also told police that the assailants “yelled pro-‘Make America Great Again’ [MAGA] comments” during the attack.
Later developments cast doubt on Smollett’s account, including the questioning of two suspects — a pair of brothers, one of whom worked as a personal trainer on a music video of Smollett’s — who were later released without being charged. Smollett entered a not guilty plea on March 14, and his next appearance in court was scheduled for April 17.
Following Smollett’s arrest, Empire opted to remove his character, Jamal, from the final two episodes of the current season, and producers were said to be mulling a recast of the role.
UPDATE: 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment, which produce Empire, have released the following statement regarding the dropped charges: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”