On Tuesday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office cleared Empire actor Jussie Smollett of all charges. Smollett had been accused of staging an attack that he said was a hate crime.
“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,” Smollett’s lawyers said in a statement, per USA Today. “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….There should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion.”
According to CNN, Smollett was called into a Chicago courthouse on Tuesday morning for an emergency hearing. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office barely gave an explanation for why they abandoned the 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct charges, but they later revealed that the decision came after reviewing the case facts. Then, the actor forfeited his $10,000 bond. Certain records of the case will be sealed “for unknown reasons,” and the case will be expunged from Smollett’s records, The Chicago Tribune reported.
“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,” the state’s attorney’s office said, per USA Today. On Saturday and Monday, Smollett reportedly completed 16 hours of volunteer service at the Rainbow Push Coalition.
NOW: Jussie Smollett speaks after charges dropped. https://t.co/2Z1mgWthaM
— ABC News (@ABC) March 26, 2019
Smollett talked to the media after the decision, saying, “I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.” Since day one, Smollett has been adamant that he is innocent.
The dropped charges sparked outrage from the public. According to the Associated Press, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it “a whitewash of justice” and criticized Smollett for dragging Chicago’s reputation “through the mud” just to advance his career.
Later, the prosecutor who oversaw the investigation and dropped the charges against Smollett clarified his reasoning. “I do not believe he is innocent,” First Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Magats said in an interview with CBS Chicago. “Based on all the facts and circumstances, based on his life and criminal background. I mean, we defer and do alternative prosecutions. In the last two years, we’ve done 5,700 other felony cases.”
Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement saying they were “gratified on his behalf” for the case dismissal. Empire producers removed Smollett from the final two episodes of the season. In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Smollett said he wants to “get back to work and move on with life.”