Published Mar 27, 2019Just yesterday (March 26), Empire actor Jussie Smollett was cleared of 16 charges in the long, strange case that suggested he had orchestrated a hate crime against himself. While that chapter of the story may have ended, however, many questions remain unanswered, and more are being raised as the parties involved continue to speak out.
First Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Joseph Magats — the prosecutor who handled the case after Kim Foxx recused herself in February — has clarified in an interview with CBS [via The Hollywood Reporter] that he does not think Smollett is innocent despite dropping the charges.
"I do not believe he is innocent," Magats said. "Based on all the facts and circumstances, based on his life and criminal background. I mean, we defer and do alternative prosecutions. In the last two years, we've done 5,700 other felony cases."
In a statement sent to NBC 5 Chicago, the State's Attorney Office further explained the alternative prosecution process:
In the last two years, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office has referred more than 5,700 cases for alternative prosecution. This is not a new or unusual practice. An alternative disposition does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities with the case or the evidence. We stand behind the Chicago Police Department's investigation and our decision to approve charges in this case. We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett. The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett's agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago.
Meanwhile, Smollett's attorney is now trying to shift the focus of the story onto Abimbola "Abel" Osundairo and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, the former Empire actors who served as Smollett's personal trainers and have since confessed to the attack.
"The two men who attacked him have indicated that they attacked him, so we already know who attacked him," attorney Patricia Brown Holmes told the Associated Press.
According to TMZ, the Osundairo brothers were encouraged to make a statement doubling down on their claim that Smollett faked the attack shortly after his charges were cleared. They reportedly didn't want to, and their lawyer Gloria Schmidt reportedly stepped down from representing them as a result.
In other words, the entire situation is still a convoluted mess that won't be disappearing from the news any time soon.