Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett is accused of faking a hate crime attack against himself, which sparked a national outrage against President Trump and his supporters. Smollett blamed everything on the two men he allegedly paid to attack him.
In a surprise decision Tuesday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not say that Smollett is innocent but announced that all charges against him would be dropped.
The openly gay black actor was facing 16 felony charges after the two brothers he reportedly paid to beat him up were discovered with a mountain of evidence and confessed to the whole thing. They said Smollett also instructed them to yell “This is MAGA county!” and make the attack appear to be perpetrated by racist, anti-gay Trump supporters.
“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 in this case,” the State’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
In other words, Smollett gets off scot-free because he’s volunteering for some community service and is letting Chicago keep the $10,000 of bond money he paid to get out of jail. Reportedly, the community service he’s doing is for something prior to all this.
Not only will Smollett’s record be “fully expunged,” according to his spokesperson, the judge “granted a motion to seal the case,” according to CBS Chicago.
Smollett’s attorneys are overjoyed, according to the Chicago Tribune, and gave the following statement:
"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. 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.
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."
The sealing of the case brings into question whether federal charges will be pursued after Smollett allegedly sent himself a threatening letter — through the U.S. Postal Service — eight days before the reported attack.
According to multiple reports from local journalists who have been closely following the case, the Chicago Police are furious with State’s Attorney Kim Foxx office after they spent hundreds and hundreds of hours investigating the case.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel held a press conference in the afternoon where they expressed just how upset they were at Smollett and the prosecutor's office. Read about that here.
There’s no word yet if Smollett will be rehired to “Empire” after the TV series dropped his character from the final episodes of the current season.
One of Smollett’s attorneys is Mark Geragos, who has been named as a possible co-conspirator with attorney Michael Avenatti in an alleged scheme to extort millions of dollars from Nike. Geragos is also former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s attorney.