"We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. We thank God and our village for standing by us during this trying time," the Smollett family said
The family of Empire star Jussie Smollett was quick to speak out on his behalf after — in a shocking turn of events — all charges against the actor in relation to accusations that he lied to police about an alleged hate crime attack against him earlier this year were dropped.
Issuing a public statement following the news on Tuesday, the Smollett family (including Smollett’s sister, actress Jurnee-Smollett Bell) said, “Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared. Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of.”
“He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack,” the statement continued. “This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated. All charges have been dismissed and his record expunged (cleared).”
Said the Smollett family, “The painful incidents we’ve witnessed him endure over the past 7 weeks have been heartbreaking and unjust to say the least. While many were quick to rush to judgement before hearing the actual truth, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light.”
The statement concluded, “We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. We thank God and our village for standing by us during this trying time.”
20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment also released a statement: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
Smollett’s attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement released to the media Tuesday that the star’s “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,” the statement said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed the charges against Smollett had been dropped.
“After reviewing all the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s colunteer 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,” reads a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
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Smollett, 36, was arrested Feb. 20, about three weeks after the alleged incident initially portrayed by the gay and black actor as a hate crime. He later was indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports.
If Smollett had been been tried and found guilty of falsifying a police report, the Class 4 felony carried a potential sentence of up to three years in prison.