Charges dropped against Empire actor Jussie Smollett | Ents & Arts News

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Lawyers for Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack, say all the charges against him have been dropped.

It comes following an “emergency” court appearance in Chicago, according to US media.

Smollett, 36, who is black and openly gay, was accused of hiring two men to help stage an attack in the early hours of 29 January.

He pleaded not guilty to charges at a hearing earlier this month and had been due to appear in court again on 17 April until today’s announcement.

Jessie Smollett appears in court
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The Empire star pleaded not guilty to charges at a court hearing earlier this month

In a statement, Smollett’s attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said his record had now “been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him”.

Prosecutors have given no detailed explanation, but confirmed an “appropriate resolution” had been reached.

“Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on 29 January,” Smollett’s lawyers said. “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.

“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.

Jussie Smollett arrives at court in Chicago
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The case against Smollett has received a lot of media attention

“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.”

Prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said: “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.”

Smollett had made a $10,000 (£7,500) bond payment to the city to get out of jail after his arrest.

Prosecutors have not said whether any new evidence has come to light since Smollett’s last court appearance.

In his report to police, the star said he had been attacked on his way home from a sandwich shop, by two masked men who shouted racial and anti-gay slurs. The men poured bleach on him, beat him and looped a rope around his neck, the actor said.

He claimed they shouted, “This is MAGA country”, in a reference to President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan.

But police and prosecutors accused him of making a false report because he was unhappy with his pay on Fox show Empire, and wanted to promote his career.

Officers said Smollett paid brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo $3,500 (£2,650) to carry out the attack. One of them had worked on Empire.

A lawyer for the brothers had said they agreed to help Smollett because of their friendship 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.

More follows…

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