CHICAGO, Illinois - In a sensational development actor Jussie Smollett has been completely cleared of any wrongdoing in an incident which saw his name smeared across the world, and his employer, 20th Century Fox Television, drop him from the highly successful TV show "Empire."
Now all charges against him have been dropped.
Smollett, 36, had been charged with staging an attack on himself by two men to gain sympathy and raise his profile - in other words a publicity stunt.
The black, and openly gay, actor was villified in national and international media in a classic case of 'rush to judgement.' Public officials and high profile entertainment individuals made comments attacking the actor, assuming he was guilty of what police were saying he did.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office has yet to explain why the felony disorderly charges have been dropped, other than to say it came after they reviewed the 'facts' of the case, and in light of his agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond.
"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 to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," the state's attorney's office said in a statement released on Tuesday.
Smollett, earlier this month was indicted on sixteen felony counts of disorderly conduct. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any involvement in orchestrating the attack which he claims left him injured. He appeared in a Chicago courthouse on Tuesday for what was described as 'an emergency hearing in his case.'
"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 have been accused of," the actor said after the charges were dropped.
"This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life, but I am a man of faith and I am a man that 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," Smollett said.
"I'd like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life but make no mistakes I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalised people everywhere," he added.
His attorneys too were on the attack on Tuesday, taking aim at their client's critics.
"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 judgment," a statement released on Tuesday by Smollett's attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said.
"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. 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."
Smollett had told police in January that two men attacked him around 2:00am in Chicago, had placed a noose around his neck and had bleach poured on him, while making racial and homophobic remarks.
Police arrested two brothers in mid-February, and police sources were quoted as alleging they knew the actor and had been paid by him to stage the attack.
There was no immediate announcement from Fox, the producers of "Empire," as to the actor's future with the show. Fox had dropped Smollett's character, Jamal, for the remainfder of the season.