March 26 (UPI) — Chicago prosecutors dropped all charges Tuesday against Jussie Smollett in the latest turn of events involving the television actor.
Smollett, a star on the show “Empire,” was accused of staging a phony hate crime against himself and making a false police report. All 16 counts were dismissed Tuesday and the case file was sealed.
“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,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement.
“I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” Smollett told reporters outside court Tuesday. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.”
Smollett, 36, said he wants to move on with his life and thanked his supporters. He posed for pictures outside the Chicago courthouse after the charges were dropped.
Smollett’s attorneys emphasized the charges were dropped — and was not the result of a plea deal. They added Smollett was hurt by unfair and unwarranted accusations.
“His record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” the attorneys said. “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.”
Smollett told police he was attacked by two men in January on a street near his Chicago home. He said the men yelled racial and homophobic slurs, beat him and wrapped a noose around his neck.
Police investigated the case as a hate crime but later said Smollett paid the two men to stage the attack. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Chicago Police Department Supt. Eddie Johnson was not notified of the decision to drop charges, and said the case against Smollett was “rock solid.”
The $10,000 posted for Smollett’s bond will be given to the City of Chicago Law Department, the Sun-Times report said.
It’s unclear what lingering impact the case might have on Smollett’s career going forward. His character was removed from this season’s final episodes of Empire after he was charged.