Texts, rideshares helped police uncover evidence in Smollett case


Earlier on Thursday though, the network released a new statement that said in part, "We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options".

Actor Jussie Smollett's character is being removed from the final two episodes of Fox's hip-hop drama "Empire" after he was arrested and accused of staging a hoax hate crime attack on himself, show officials said on Friday.

Smollett and his representatives have repeatedly denied that he staged the attack. "Defendant Smollett further detailed that he wanted Abel to attack him, but not hurt him too badly, and to give him a chance to appear to fight back".

Once considered by Chicago police to be the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime, Smollett now faces a felony charge for allegedly filing a false police report about the incident.

The actor, the statement continued, "fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing".

Shortly after he made the $100,000 bond imposed on him, Smollett showed up to the set of "Empire", which films in Chicago and reportedly made an emotional apology to his fellow cast members, while remaining steadfast about his innocence.

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Smollett had told police that on January 29 he was attacked by two people who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, tied a rope around his neck, and poured an unknown substance on him.

Phone records indicate Smollett talked to the brothers about an hour before the alleged attack, an hour afterward and after they left the country for Nigeria, authorities said. He said Smollett "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career" and said he was baffled as to why anyone, especially an African-American man, "would use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations". Smollett was also asked to surrender his passport.

Smollett and his legal team are gearing up to launch an "aggressive defense", according to his attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson.

Immediately after his release on bond Thursday, Smollett was whisked to the set of "Empire".

While Smollett is now facing one felony count of disorderly conduct, he may face additional charges as the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating a hate threat sent to Smollett one week prior to the alleged attack.

Smollett's attorneys wrote that he, like any other citizen, "enjoys the presumption of innocence" and that they meant to "mount an aggressive defense".