Jussie Smollett has expressed his gratitude to family, friends, and fans for standing by him during his “incredibly difficult” prosecution after having all charges dismissed.
Jussie Smollett says this case “has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life.”
— ABC News (@ABC) March 26, 2019
The Empire actor faced 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to police in Chicago, Illinois about being attacked by racists outside his apartment in January (19), amid claims suggesting he had staged the ordeal for publicity.
He maintained his innocence and earlier this month (Mar19), he pleaded not guilty to the disorderly conduct charges, which could have landed him more than three years behind bars and a hefty fine if convicted.
However, in a stunning turn of events, on Tuesday (26Mar19) it was announced that all criminal counts against Smollett had been dropped, and his record wiped clean.
After appearing in a Chicago courtroom on Tuesday morning for an emergency hearing regarding the case, the star addressed reporters and said, “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 who have showed me so much love.”
Smollett insisted he had been “truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” and admitted the past few weeks had been extraordinarily tough.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time. Honestly one of the worst of my entire life,” the 36 year old continued. “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.”
Concluding his message, Smollett explained he was looking forward to resuming his career and putting the criminal case behind him: “Now I’d like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life,” he said. “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. Thank you very much.”
A representative for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office also issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, revealing Smollett had agreed to “forfeit” his $100,000 bail money to move on, branding the outcome “a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case”.
Shortly after the news hit headlines, Jussie’s family members lashed out at authorities for turning Smollett’s life upside down.
“Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared,” they declared. “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,” they added. “This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated. All charges have been dismissed and his record expunged.”
They concluded the statement by sharing their wish to see the “real perpetrators” brought to justice.
And the writers at Empire have shown their support for Jussie, who was cut from the last two episodes of the hip-hop drama’s current season five amid the legal scandal, by sharing a news report of the dropped case on Twitter, and simply promoting the show’s next air date.
“see y’all Wednesday. #empire #empirefox,” read the caption.
– Cover Media0