In a recent and rare interview, Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett maintained his innocence after being accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in 2019.
“They won’t let this go. It doesn’t matter,” Smollett said in an interview with journalist Marc Lamont Hill that was posted to Instagram on Wednesday. “There is an example being made and the sad thing is that there’s an example being made of someone that did not do what they’re being accused of.”
Smollett first reported he was the victim of a racist and anti-gay attack in Chicago in January 2019. Police later alleged Smollett staged the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary.
Police at the time said Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to carry out the staged attack. Evidence, including text messages and video surveillance, emerged of the brothers communicating with Smollett days before the alleged attack.
Smollett was charged on Feb. 20, 2019, with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false report, but in a surprising move, all charges against him were then dropped by the Cook County State's Attorney's office.
The actor agreed to community service and to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said wiping Smollett’s record was a “just disposition and appropriate resolution” but noted they “did not exonerate” him.
Smollett was charged for a second time in the ongoing case on Feb. 11, 2020, this time on six counts of disorderly conduct for "making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime," Special Prosecutor Dan Webb said in a statement at the time.
The interview, Smollett said was has transpired over the course of two years has “humbled” him and expressed frustration over keeping quiet on the allegations at the request of his legal team.
“I don’t think people realize that I’ve just been wrapped up in some form of a case for the last, approaching, in just a couple of months approaching two years. It’s been beyond frustrating,” Smollett said in the interview posted on Wednesday. “I’m certainly not going rogue. I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that. But I just don’t see honestly what staying quiet has really done. Where it has gotten me.”