Charges Dropped In Case Against 'Empire' Actor Jussie Smollett

Empire actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court Building for his hearing on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Chicago.
Photo credit AP Photo/Matt Marton

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO/AP) -- All criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record was expunged Tuesday at an "emergency" court hearing.

The development comes less than two weeks after Smollett plead not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly hiring two men to attack him in a staged racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago in January.

His attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said Smollett's record "has been wiped clean". Smollett will forfeit the $10,000 bail he posted after his arrest.

Attorneys Glandian and Brown Holmes issued a statement after the hearing:

“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 29. 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.”

Smollett and attorny Patricia Brown Holmes spoke Tuesday morning after an "emergency" hearing, where a judge agreed to drop the charges and expunge the case. Here the full press conference below:

"First of all, I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me and have shown me so much love. No one will ever know how much that has meant to me and I will forever be grateful. I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. 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 was accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time. Honestly one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith and a man who 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. So I want to thank my legal counsel, from the bottom of my heart, and I would also like to thank the State of Illinois for attempting to do what is right. Now I would 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 marginalized people everywhere. So again, thank you for all the support. Thank you for faith and thank you to God. Bless you all," Smollett said after the hearing.

Among the questions that weren't immediately answered was whether prosecutors still believe Smollett concocted the attack and whether there's new evidence that altered their view of events. Typically, a minimum condition of dropping cases is some acceptance of responsibility. In a statement, the Cook County prosecutors' office offered no detailed explanation.

Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, said there was no agreement with prosecutors, insisting the state’s attorney’s office dropped the charges on their own.

“There is no deferred prosecution...The state dismissed the charges,” Holmes said. “We believe it was the correct result...We are very anxious for Jussie to get on with his life.”

Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said in a statement, "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."

State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case in February, before charges were filed. Spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said Foxx may know people who are potential witnesses. Foxx tried to get Superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn the case over to the FBI.

Police and prosecutors have said Smollett falsely reported the because he was unhappy with his pay on the Fox show and to promote his career. Police also said Smollett hired two men to attack him and paid the men $3,500.

The men are brothers Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, and one of them had worked on "Empire." An attorney for them has said the brothers agreed to help Smollett because of their friendship with him and the sense that he was helping their careers.

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.

Smolett, who is black and gay, plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show, "Empire" that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.

His family released a statement reading: 

"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. This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated. All charges have been dismissed and his record expunged (cleared). 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. We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. We thank God and our village for standing by us during this trying time."

When asked for a comment, 21st Century Fox replied, “Many of you have reached out regarding today’s developments in the Jussie Smollett case. As of this time, the studio and network have no comment.”