Jussie Smollett is in the clear. In a shocking reversal, prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois, dropped all 16 felony charges against the Empire star on Tuesday, March 26.
“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 attorneys, Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes, said in a statement to Us Weekly. “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 judgment.”
The statement continued, “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.”
A spokesperson from the Cook County State Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, tells Us, “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. We standby the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our decision to approve charges in this case.”
The actor, 36, reported to Chicago police in late January that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Days later, he said in a statement to Essence that he believed “justice will be served” and called the incident “cowardly” and “horrific.”
Authorities arrested two brothers, Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, in early February in connection with the reported attack. Hours later, the Osundairos were released without being charged and were no longer considered suspects. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told Us at the time that “information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation.”
Soon after, Smollett was named as a suspect in the investigation, and he was arrested in the early hours of February 21. Police claimed during a press conference that the actor staged the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary. On March 7, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly filing a false police report. He maintained his innocence throughout the case.
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In the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment, the studio and network behind Empire, tell Us, “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence, and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
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