Criminal costs in opposition to actor Jussie Smollett have been dropped, however the court docket of public opinion continues to be out.
This morning, Smollett’s attorneys and prosecutors introduced that every one costs in opposition to Smollett have been dropped and his file expunged. The Empire actor was accused of orchestrating a hate crime in opposition to himself in Chicago and submitting a false police report about it.
The determination is a surprising about-face in a really public case that noticed Chicago police declare the alleged assault was in service of Smollett’s profession. Among the proof the police mentioned that they had was a duplicate of the test used for cost and telephone data displaying Smollett speaking with the assailants earlier than and after the incident.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel slammed the dropped costs, with Rahm condemning that Smollett had been “let off scot-free.”
“If you want to say you’re innocent of the situation, you take your day in court,” mentioned Johnson. “I would never hide behind a brokered deal in secrecy, period.”
The public might facet with Johnson. According to disaster public relations skilled Eden Gillott, the dropped costs will not be sufficient to flip round Smollett’s performing profession, which gave the impression to be all however over following the allegations.
“In spite of this resolution, his reputation has been severely damaged,” mentioned Gillott, president of Gillott Communications. “Until people believe he did not actually do this, a lot of production houses and networks will steer clear of him.”
Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, is not going to seem within the remaining two episodes of Empire‘s present season. Its producer, Fox, mentioned in an announcement: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
But different specialists consider the scandal may very well have helped Smollett’s profession.
“He’s more famous now than ever before,” mentioned Richard Levick, CEO of LEVICK communications. Levick suggested Smollett lay low earlier than staging a comeback. “Reputational rebound is possible but you have to give it the appropriate time.”
Hollywood has a prolonged historical past of forgiving disgraced actors. Take Mel Gibson, who was blacklisted in 2006 after he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor drunken driving throughout which he was recorded making anti-Semitic remarks, however returned a decade later with Hacksaw Ridge, which earned two Oscars in 2017.
But in a #MeToo period, public opinion has been magnified by social media. It could also be tougher for Smollett to revenue off his elevated fame if he would not win over the general public.
Smollett was indicted by a grand jury earlier this month on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct and pleaded not responsible to the fees. He denied any involvement in staging an assault.
He has forfeited a $10,000 bond, which can now go to Cook County. According to the New York Times, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped the 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct after Smollett agreed to group service and to surrender the $10,000 bond. Deciding prosecutor Joe Magatos instructed the Times that dropping the fees “didn’t exonerate him.”
“Generally when charges are dismissed, the clerk will return the money to the person who posted the bond minus a percentage of an administrative handling fee,” mentioned Phillip Turner, a former federal prosecutor and present protection lawyer in Chicago. “When the general public hears that [the bond has been forfeited], I suspect the perception will be that it’s business as usual — you pay and you play,” continued Turner, referencing the long-running historical past of corruption in Chicago.
For Smollett, how Fox treats him might be key in figuring out his future. It just isn’t but identified what his position might be on Empire going ahead.
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