'I have been truthful': Charges dropped against Empire actor

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Charges have been dropped against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack.

The actor, who is black and openly gay, was alleged to have hired 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.

Speaking after the decision, Smollett said: “I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of.

'I have been truthful': Charges dropped against Empire actor
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The Empire star pleaded not guilty to charges at a court hearing earlier this month

“This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life, but I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives, or the movement through a fire like this, I just wouldn’t.”

He continued: “I’d like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life but make no mistakes I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalised people everywhere.”

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Smollett, 36, also thanked family, friends and well-wishers for their support.

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”.

'I have been truthful': Charges dropped against Empire actor
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The case against Smollett has received a lot of media attention

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

Smollett’s lawyers said it was the “only just result”.

“Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on 29 January,” they 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.

“It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect.”

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.

'I have been truthful': Charges dropped against Empire actor
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Smollett plays gay character Jamal Lyon in Empire

Prosecutors have not said whether any new evidence has come to light since the star’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, alleging he was unhappy with his pay for his role as gay character Jamal Lyon in Fox show Empire, and that he 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.

Smollett’s lawyers said a payment was made by the star, but that this was for training and nutrition.

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.