27 Mar 19
The Scottish Sun
THE prosecutor who dropped the charges against Jussie Smollett has admitted he does not believe the Empire star is innocent.
First Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Magats revealed he made the extraordinary decision to drop the case because the actor has no criminal background.
Prosecutor Joe Magats, who dropped the charges against Jussie Smollett, has admitted he does not believe the Empire star is innocent
Actor Jussie Smollett speaks to reporters after prosecutors dropped all charges against him
He said he thought Smollett, 36, was guilty but that “based on the facts and circumstances of the case”, the decision was made not to pursue charges against him.
“I do not believe he is innocent,” Mr Magats told CBS on Tuesday afternoon.
Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a “phony” street attack and claiming he was the victim of a hate crime to garner sympathetic publicity.
He spent 16 hours performing community service at Rainbow Push, a civil rights organisation in Chicago.
The Empire actor worked in bookstores, sold merchandise, stuffed envelopes, spoke to students and helped in the video department.
In an unexpected development, all charges have been dropped against the actor by prosecutors — in news that has rocked America.
But he could reportedly still face federal charges as the FBI and the US Postal Inspection Service are continuing their probe into a threatening letter Smollett might have sent to himself.
Federal investigators are continuing to probe whether Smollett delivered a racially charged letter to the Empire office in Chicago, according to ABC News.
A source told the network that the dismissal of the state’s case has not impacted the federal probe.
The hate-filled letter arrived a week before his alleged hate crime occurred.
Smollett said the letter stated “You will die black f-g” in cutout magazine letters with a crude stick figure drawing hanging from a tree.
“MAGA” was written in red letters across the envelope, which also had a crushed-up white powder in it that was later determined to be aspirin.
Smollett appears with a fan as he walks out of the Leighton Criminal Court Building today
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, right, and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson appear at a news conference
Days later, Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told police he was attacked while walking home around 2am on January 29.
He claimed two masked men – one wearing a red MAGA-style hat – shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him.
The star claimed they yelled: “This is MAGA country”, a reference to Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign slogan.
It was later claimed Smollett had directed the men — who were brothers — to buy the noose at a hardware store and the hat and masks at a store in Uptown Chicago.
Police said the pair wore gloves during the staged attack, and did punch Smollett, but the scratches and bruises on Smollett’s face were most likely self-inflicted.
Cops at the time said the attack was a publicity stunt because the actor was upset about his pay on the hit show.
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Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel has slammed the decision to drop charges against Smollett as a “whitewash of justice”.
Speaking outside court in the wake of the decision to scrap the charges, Mr Emanuel said: “[Smollett] did this all in the name of self-promotion.
“He used the laws of the hate crime legislation that all of us have put on the books – to stand up for the values that embody what we believe in.
“This is a whitewash of justice.”
Chicago Police Department Central Commander Ed Wodnicki said the dropping of the charges was a “punch in the gut” and and insists he had a “rock solid case”.
Meanwhile Superintendent Eddie Johnson said: “At the end of the day, it is Mr Smollett who committed this hoax, period.
“If he wanted to clear his name, the way to do that is in a court of law so everyone can see the evidence.
“I stand by the facts of what we produced.
‘I HAVE BEEN TRUTHFUL’
Yet the actor’s attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement that their client’s record has now “been wiped clean.”
Following the announcement, an emotional 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 had been 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.”
Initial reports of the assault led to a huge backlash against Trump supporters in the US with one headline claiming the attack was “far right America’s endgame”.
That theme was echoed by other news outlets and backed up by dozens of editorial pieces about how racist and homophobic America had become.
A furious President Trump was, not surprisingly, then quick to lay into Smollett after Chicago police arrested him over the fake attack allegations.
“@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” the President tweeted, adding the hashtag ‘#MAGA.’
DIVIDED A NATION
When news of the attack first emerged days earlier, Smollett was inundated with support across the political divide.
However, as it emerged that Smollett “knew his attackers” and may have even been involved in the staging of the attack, the celebrities and politicians who rushed to support him went quiet.
This afternoon’s news that Smollett is now in the clear has left many Americans baffled – and is reported to have infuriated cops in Chicago.
“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,” said Smollett’s legal team.
“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.”
Smollett’s spokesperson said his record would be “fully expunged” following the decision.
“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, ” Anne Kavanaugh stated in an email.
“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.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office 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, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case”
Smollett was accused of lying to police when he told them two men unleashed a racist and homophobic attack on him in the city.
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Each of the 16 counts against him covered various alleged acts that Smollett falsely described to the officers.
Officers at the time said the attack was a publicity stunt because the actor was upset about his pay on the show.
However, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department said today: “All questions about that need to be directed to the State’s Attorney’s Office.”
Smollett had denied all the allegations against him and even went on Good Morning America to protest his innocence.
Smollett was accused of staging a racist attack on himself to further his TV career
The Empire star claimed he was assaulted by two white Trump supporters who yelled racist and homophobic slurs
Smollett said he received a threatening hate letter warning ‘you will die black fag’
In this courtroom sketch, Smollett, appears in from before Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr
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