After being arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of filing a false police report that claimed he was a victim of a hate crime, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was dropped from the rest of the show’s fifth season.
The show’s executive producers released a statement Friday morning stating, “While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
Smollett, who is gay and black, filed a police report that claimed he was attacked by two men on Jan. 29. The report alleged that the attackers poured an unknown chemical substance on him, tied a rope around his neck, and yelled racist and homophobic slurs.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed that Smollett turned himself in for staging his own attack, and his bail was set at $100,000. Smollett paid the bond and was released from jail on Thursday.
If found guilty, he faces up to 3 years in prison and will be forced to pay for the investigation.
At a press conference on Thursday morning, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson claimed that Smollett staged his attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity to promote his career.
“This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve,” Johnson said.
According to police, Smollett paid the two brothers who were previously the potential suspects $3,500 each to stage the attack. He also allegedly sent himself a letter containing racist and homophobic language.
After being released on bail, Smollett returned to the Empire set, apologized to the cast and crew and insisted that he did not orchestrate the attack on himself.
Smollett’s legal team released a statement that said, “Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”