- Prosecutors have dropped charges against Jussie Smollett two weeks after he pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
- Smollett had been accused of filing a false police report and staging an attack against himself in February.
- After charges were dropped, Smollett denied staging a hate crime and said he had “been truthful and consistent on every level since day one.”
Charges against Jussie Smollett have been dropped by prosecutors after the “Empire” actor was accused of faking a hate crime in Chicago last month, CBS Chicago reports.
The news comes less than two weeks after Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct related to accusations that he filed a false police report and staged an attack against himself in February.
The FBI and US Postal Inspection service are still investigating whether Smollett played a role in sending a threatening letter to himself ahead of the reported attack, according to ABC 7 Chicago reporter Rob Eglas.
Smollett had described being the victim of a racist, homophobic attack in January in which he said two men put a noose around his neck, chanted slogans linked to President Donald Trump, and poured an unknown substance on him.
The police arrested two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, while investigating Smollett’s claims but said they told officers that Smollett had paid them $US3,500 to stage the attack.
The police then accused Smollett of hiring the two men and orchestrating the attack because he was unhappy with his salary on “Empire.”
Smollett denied staging the hate crime at a press conference after the charges against him were dropped.
“I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” he said. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.”
He said he was a “man of faith” and thanked the “incredible people of Chicago and all over the country” who supported him.
The charges were dropped after prosecutors reviewed the case circumstances and Smollett’s community service, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
Smollett completed 16 hours of community service the Rainbow Push Coalition, a social-justice non-profit organisation founded by Jesse Jackson in Chicago, in the last several days.
Among the things he did while volunteering on Saturday and Monday were working in the bookstore, speaking to visiting students and parents, and providing a critique of the organisation’s broadcast studio.
Smollett’s attorneys, Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes, released a statement after the charges were dropped, saying the actor “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.”
— Brendon Geoffrion (@tv_brendon) March 26, 2019
The attorneys stood by the claims that Smollett was a victim of a hate crime and accused the “court of public opinion” of rushing to judgment.
“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 attorneys said, adding that Smollett planned to focus on his family, friends, and career.
The charges were dropped in an unscheduled court hearing on Tuesday, CBS Chicago said. Smollett agreed to forfeit the $US10,000 bail he posted after his arrest.
“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 Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said in an email to CBS Chicago.
A judge granted a motion to seal the case.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference that he learned the charges were dropped at the same time the public did.
He said at that he doesn’t believe justice was served, and that the city of Chicago “is still owed an apology.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel criticised the decision to drop charges at the same press conference, calling it a “whitewash of justice” that “sends a message that if you’re in a position of power, you are privileged and get away with things.”
“At the end of the day, it’s Mr. Smollett that committed this false claim upon two individuals and who also testified, but also on the city. One action, yes, we’re looking at the state’s attorney. It’s not on the level from beginning to end and there needs to be a level of accountability throughout the system, and this sends an ambiguous message that there is no accountability and that is wrong,” he said.
Fox and 20th Century Fox Television said in a statement to CNNthat they are “gratified” charges against Smollett were dropped.
A previous version of this story said police dropped the charges against Smollett.
- Read more:
- Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to 16 charges in hoax assault case
- A grand jury reportedly indicts ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts
- Gayle King fires back at the Fox News host who mistook her for Robin Roberts: ‘All black people do not look alike’
- Chicago Police are investigating their own officers over reports that they leaked information about the Jussie Smollett case
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