Sources: Jussie Smollett Begs Empire Cast to Believe Him

Actor's legal team releases new statement asserting his innocence
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2019 1:04 AM CST
Updated Feb 22, 2019 6:45 AM CST
In this Aug. 8, 2015 file photo, Jussie Smollett attends HollyRod's 17th Annual DesignCare Gala held at The Lot Studios, in West Hollywood, Calif.   (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – After being released on bond Thursday, Jussie Smollett quickly returned to the set of Empire, sources tell the Hollywood Reporter. Fox officials released a statement after Smollett's arrest that they were "evaluating the situation and ... considering our options," and sources say those options include keeping Smollett's character in the script for the season five finale or writing him out of it. The drama series is currently filming the penultimate episode of season five, and sources tell TMZ Smollett was shooting scenes for that episode Thursday. Those sources also say the actor begged the cast and crew to believe that he did not fake an attack on himself Jan. 29, as he is charged with doing. "I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls," he reportedly said. "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's legal team released a new statement Thursday night, following a day in which police released a detailed account of what they say Smollett did: "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." Also Thursday, TMZ reported that Smollett told police during his arrest that he has a drug problem that's never been treated. Police say Smollett bought ecstasy from one of the brothers he allegedly hired to stage the attack, and TMZ says "a drug issue could be a mitigating factor that gets his sentenced reduced" if he's convicted. (Read more on the case.)

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