All criminal charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly faking his own assault have been dropped, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Smollett appeared at an emergency hearing Tuesday morning, where Cook County prosecutors announced that all of the 16 counts against him would be dropped.
“We believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” a county prosecutor said in an announcement.
Smollett, who was indicted by a grand jury last month on 16 felony counts, will only need to surrender his $10K bond, TMZ reports.
Smollett was accused of lying to Chicago police about an alleged January attack, where he claimed two masked men assaulted him and shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him. According to Smollett, the two men also placed a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him.
Smollett, 36, has maintained his side of the story. On Tuesday, he thanked his legal team and everyone who prayed for him.
“I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” Smollett said. “This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my life.”
Smollett added that he will continue to fight for marginalized people.
His lawyers have called the police conduct “unfair and unwarranted.”
“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,” the statement said. “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.”
UPDATE: The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said that the charges were being dropped because they believed Smollett’s already-served community service was an “appropriate resolution” for the case. A judge agreed to keep the case sealed.
TMZ took things a step further, reporting that the prosecution’s case “disintegrated,” especially over issues regarding witnesses and the alleged payment for the attack.
Smollett was arrested on Feb. 20 after police questioned two brothers, Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, in connection to the case. The brothers’ story later led police to believe that Smollett had allegedly hired them to stage the attack. According to the prosecution, police even had a check in their possession in the amount of $3500 as payment for the hoax.
Smollett’s team maintained that the check was instead for personal training, citing the memo written on the check.
“My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” a lawyer for the brothers said in a statement.
The Osundairos have not been charged in the case.
“This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion,” lawyers for Smollett said. “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.”
FOX, who fired Smollett from Empire issued a statement Tuesday:
“Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
The network did not show any indication that Smollett would be re-hired.