Jussie Smollett is continuing to maintain his innocence.
EW confirmed that, as TMZ first reported, after being released on bail, Smollett returned to the Chicago-based set of Empire on Thursday and apologized to the cast and crew, while still vehemently insisting that he would never do what he stands accused of.
This echoes the latest statement put out by the Smollett’s legal team, which reads: “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.”
Early Thursday morning, Smollett was arrested on a felony charge of filing a false police report. In a press conference, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett orchestrated the racial and homophobic attack on himself after not being satisfied with the response to a threatening letter he allegedly sent to the Empire production offices.
While the police argue that his motive extends to money, an EW production source says Smollett “never” complained about his salary, which THR reports is $125,000 per episode. But money does appear to be a crucial part of the case against Smollett, with the police revealing that they’re in possession of a check for $3,500 from Smollett to the alleged conspirators-turned-witnesses Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo.
In terms of Smollett’s future on Empire, Fox says they’re “considering our options.”
Tim Stack contributed to this report.