In the weeks since
told Chicago police that he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack, there has been one shocking development after another. Investigators continued to search for the perpetrators of what was initially described as a “possible hate crime” before ultimately accusing the 36-year-old of staging his own assault. Jussie Smollett
star reported that he was attacked in the early hours of January 29. Days later, he spoke out for the first time since the incident, stating that he was “working with authorities and [has] been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level.” He also returned to work, performing a concert in West Hollywood before returning to the set of his Fox musical drama. Empire
Smollett appeared on
Good Morning America on February 14 for his first interview about the alleged attack. He became emotional at one point, saying that he was “forever changed” and felt “pissed off” by both the incident itself and the skepticism swirling on social media.
Stars at Court
A major development in the case came on February 15 when police arrested two possible suspects, but they were released soon after without charges. Multiple reports later surfaced accusing the actor of staging the attack, which he has repeatedly and vehemently denied. However, on February 20, he was charged with felony disorderly conduct for making a false police report. The next morning, he was arrested.
Scroll down for a comprehensive timeline to stay up-to-date on everything we know about the story so far.
Alleged Attack Takes Place
Smollett, who is openly gay, told the Chicago Police Department that he
had been attacked on January 29 at 2 a.m. He said he was approached by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs and “This is MAGA country,” beat him, poured an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck. He transported himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was released later that day in good condition.
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‘Persons of Interest’ Security Footage
The first sign of progress in the case came on January 30 when police released grainy surveillance footage that department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told
Us Weekly showed two “ potential persons of interest wanted for questioning.” Meanwhile, the FBI began investigating a threatening letter that was sent to Smollett at the Empire offices in Chicago days before the reported attack.
G.N.Miller/NYPost / MEGA
Refusal to Turn Over Phone Records
Us on January 31 that Smollett and his manager told police they were “talking on their cellphones” right before the attack, but the pair refused to turn over their phone records. That said, the spokesman said that investigators had “no reason to doubt the statements given” at the time.
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Family Speaks Out
The actor’s family
released a statement to Us later on January 31 that read in part, “Jussie was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack. We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice.”
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Breaking His Silence
broke his silence on February 1, telling fans in a statement to Essence that he was doing “OK” and thanking them for their support. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served,” he said. “As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.”
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Return to Work
performed at the famed Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood on February 2. He told the crowd, “I had to be here tonight, y’all. I can’t let [them] win. I will always stand for love.” The next week, a source confirmed to Us that he returned to the set of . Empire
‘Good Morning America’ Interview
detailed his side of the story while sitting down with on the February 14 episode of Robin Roberts Good Morning America. He explained why he did not hand over his cellphone to police (“I have private pictures and videos and numbers”) and said the attack “felt like minutes but was probably, like, 30 seconds.” He added, “I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community — young, black children — to know how strong that they are.”
Stephen Green/ABC via Getty Images
‘Empire’ Producers Deny He Was Being Written Off
A report by ABC 7 Chicago released later on February 14 claimed that the attack was staged because Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, was allegedly being written off
Empire. Guglielmi later clarified on Twitter that the report was “unconfirmed by case detectives,” calling it “uninformed and inaccurate.” Empire producers also disputed the “patently ridiculous” rumors surrounding the fate of Smollett’s character, telling Us in a statement that they “continue to stand behind” the star. In a February 20 statement, Fox added that Smollet continued “to be a consummate professional on set.”
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Two Suspects Arrested and Released
arrested two brothers, Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, on February 15 in connection with the reported attack. They had been picked up by police at O’Hare International Airport two days earlier. Hours after their arrests, the Osundairos, both of whom have had minor roles on Empire, were released without being charged and were no longer considered suspects.
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Robin Roberts Defends Interview
After Smollett was accused of staging the attack, the news anchor spoke out about her interview with the actor. “When I sat down with Jussie, it was Tuesday night [February 12] in Chicago, at the time to … publicly give his first account of what he said happened,” she said on
Good Morning America on February 18. “At that time, on Tuesday, police officers were saying that his account was consistent, it was credible, and that he was being cooperative. This was all before the interview aired on Thursday, and then we found out about the brothers.”
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images; Rachel Luna/Getty Images
False Police Report Charge
Smollett was officially classified as a suspect in the investigation on February 20. Later that day, he was
charged with felony disorderly conduct for making a false police report. In response, Smollett’s legal team told Us they “intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
FOX via Getty Images
Taken Into Custody
Smollett was arrested in Chicago in the early hours of February 21. Police claimed during a press conference that the actor staged the incident because he was dissatisfied with his salary. In the wake of the news, Fox said in a statement to Us: “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”
Marshall star was released on $100,000 bond after a court hearing later in the day. His legal team said in a statement to Us: “Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. 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.”
Chicago Police Department
Back on Set
Two hours after being released from jail, Smollett was spotted back on the set of
Empire. E! News reported that the Mighty Ducks star was “originally intended to film throughout this week on the Fox series, but his role was dramatically reduced” in light of recent events.
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
No Longer a Lyon
Empire producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer released a statement on February 22, revealing that the actor will not appear in the end of Empire season 5. “The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply,” the team behind the show said. “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.”
FOX via Getty Images
Sorry for Their Role
The Osundairos issued an apology on February 28 for allegedly helping Smollett stage the incident. “My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” the brothers’ attorney, Gloria Schmidt, said in a statement to CBS Chicago.
First Sighting Since Arrest
The Illinois native enjoyed a low-key night with brother Jocqui, sister Jurnee, a female friend and two bodyguards on February 28, marking the first time he has been spotted in public since his arrest. The group had dinner at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood in Chicago in a private area toward the back of the restaurant. On the way there, Smollett tried to keep a low-profile by covering his head with the hood of his jacket.
Jerod Harris/Getty Images for The Trevor Project
Indicted by Grand Jury
Us Weekly confirmed that Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts by a grand jury for filing a false police report on March 7. The charges are related to two separate interviews the singer-songwriter had with authorities on January 29.
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