March 26, 2019 01:23 PM
Attorneys for "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett said Tuesday that charges alleging he lied to police about an alleged attack in late January have been dropped.
Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a Tuesday morning statement that Smollett'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 who shouted racial and homophobic slurs.
In a statement to ABC News, Cook County officials confirmed the decision:
"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," the statement read.
Police and prosecutors have said the black and gay actor falsely reported to authorities that he was attacked around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago because he was unhappy with his pay on the Fox show 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 that he had been attacked on his way home from a sandwich shop. Smollett 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 President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan. He asserted that 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.
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.
Neither Smollett nor his attorney have backtracked from his original account that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in January.
The actor spoke to reporters Tuesday after a court hearing. A minimum requirement for dropping of charges in cases where prosecutors had said the evidence was strong is typically for defendants to accept some responsibility and perhaps even offer an apology.
But outside court, Smollett appeared to concede nothing Tuesday, insisting he'd been "truthful and consistent on every single level since day one."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, meanwhile, called the dropping of charges against Smollett "a whitewash of justice" and asking, "Where is the accountability in the system?"
Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said Smollett still owns the city an apology.
Updated: March 26, 2019 01:23 PM
Created: March 26, 2019 10:25 AM
(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)