Empire star Jussie Smollett has been in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons. After allegedly staging his own attack in Chicago, Smollett turned himself into police and was arrested on Thursday, February 22 on a felony charge of filing a police report.
Smollett allegedly paid two Nigerian brothers he previously worked with on the set of the hit show $3,500 to stage the attack he publicly claimed was a hate crime.
But despite the damning claims against him and the serious charge, the actor is maintaining his innocence and says that he feels “betrayed” by the United States legal system.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” Smollett’s legal team said in a statement late Thursday night, via CBS News. “The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. 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.”
After being released, Smollett went straight to Cinespace Studio where Empire is filmed and apologized to his cast members.
“I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls,” he told cast members, according to TMZ. “I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this.”
Smollett, who faces up to three years in prison if convicted of the felony charge, was released Thursday on $100,000 bond. He is currently “on hold” for the filming of the show on Friday.