Charges dropped against ‘truthful’ Empire actor Jussie Smollett

Empire actor Jussie Smollett. Picture: John Amis/AP Images for Macy's
Empire actor Jussie Smollett. Picture: John Amis/AP Images for Macy's
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American actor Jussie Smollett said he has been “truthful and consistent” after all charges against him were dropped.

Lawyers for the Empire star said prosecutors have cleared him of charges alleging he lied to police about being the target of a racist, anti-gay attack in downtown Chicago.

Speaking at a press conference outside court in Chicago, he said: “I want to thank my family, my friends and the incredible people of Chicago, and all over the country and the world, who have prayed for me, who have supported me, who have shown me so much love.

“No-one will know how much that has meant to me and I will forever be grateful.

“I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have 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 have been accused of.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life, but I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history, and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this, I just wouldn’t.”

Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement the actor’s record “has been wiped clean”.

Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men.

He had made a $10,000 (£7,566) bond payment to get out of jail after his arrest on the charges.

Police and prosecutors had previously alleged Smollett falsely reported to authorities that he was attacked around 2am on 29 January in downtown Chicago because he was unhappy with his pay on Empire and to promote his career.

Smollett, who is black and gay, plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.

Smollett reported he had been attacked on his way home from a sandwich shop. He said two masked men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, beat him and looped a rope around his neck. He claimed they shouted “this is MAGA country” - a reference to US president Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Smollett asserted he could see one of the men was white because he could see the skin around his eyes.

Police said Smollett hired two men, both of whom are black, to attack him. Police said Smollett paid the men $3,500 (£2,648).

The men are brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, and one of them had worked on Empire. An attorney for them has said the brothers agreed to help Smollett because of their friendship with him and the sense that he was helping their careers.

Police have also said that before the attack, Smollett sent a letter that threatened him to the Chicago studio where “Empire” is shot. The FBI, which is investigating that letter, has declined to comment on the investigation.