Jussie Smollett had been accused of staging a hate crime attack, but the charges were dropped

By Greg Hanlon
March 26, 2019 12:32 PM
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Credit: Paul Beaty/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Jussie Smollett spoke out Tuesday following the dismissal of charges against him by Illinois prosecutors, insisting he told the truth about being targeted in an allegedly racist and homophobic hate crime that police had accused him of staging to draw attention to himself.

“I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” the Empire actor said in brief remarks to reporters at the Cook County courthouse in Chicago. He added, “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of doing what I was accused of.”

Smollett had told police he was assaulted around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 on the street in his downtown Chicago neighborhood by two mask-clad men who hurled racist and homophobic insults at him and slipped a rope around his neck, which Smollett still was wearing when later interviewed by police.

Two men who were acquaintances of Smollett later were arrested and questioned but released after police said the men indicated they worked with Smollett to stage the incident.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office issued a statement obtained by PEOPLE reading: “After reviewing all 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.”

The state’s attorney’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s inquiry on whether prosecutors still believe Smollett staged the attack, as police Superintendent Eddie Johnson earlier had alleged in a news conference.

Nor did the state’s attorney’s office fully retreat from its initial decision to bring charges against Smollett, saying in a followup statement obtained by PEOPLE: “We stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges.”

Jussie Smollett

It was not immediately clear whether Smollett forfeited the $10,000 he put up to post bail or his full $100,000 bond.

Smollett’s attorney Patricia Brown Holmes told reporters Tuesday that Smollett had agreed to voluntarily forfeit his bond and cited his record for community service. “There is no ‘deal,'” she said. “The state dismissed the charges.”

On Jan. 29 the black and openly gay actor said he was assaulted by two mask-clad men as he stepped out for a bite to eat around 2 a.m. in his Chicago neighborhood on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Jussie Smollett

Smollett told police that as he was assaulted, the two men hurled racist and homophobic insults at him, and slipped a rope around a neck that Smollett still was wearing when later interviewed by police.

After a police investigation, Smollett was accused of staging the attack with the alleged assailants’ participation and charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct related to falsifying the police report.

Holmes said Smollett’s version of events was true, and said that two brothers who were acquaintances of the actor, Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, attacked him. But she added, “We don’t want to try them in the press any more than we wanted to get tried in the press.”

Neither of them has been charged.

“The two men who attacked him have indicated that they attacked him, so we already know who attacked him,” Holmes told reporters. She also addressed a $3,500 check that police claimed was Smollett’s payment to the brothers for their part in the attack, saying, “It was for nutrition and training. They were his trainers.”

FOX Entertainment and 20th Century FOX Television, which jointly produce Empire, on Tuesday issued a statement saying, “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”