By Derek Lawrence
March 26, 2019 at 11:25 AM EDT

The charges against Empire star Jussie Smollett have been dropped.

Speaking from outside the courtroom in Chicago, the 36-year-old actor read some notes that he said he had just written down. “First of all, I want to thank my family, friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country who have prayed for me, who have supported me, who have shown me so much love,” he began. “No one will ever know how much that has meant to me, and I will forever be grateful. I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. 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. This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly, one of the worst of my entire life. 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, our movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.”

He continued, “So I want to thank my legal counsel from the bottom of my heart, and I would also like to thank the state of Illinois for attempting to do what’s right. Now, I would like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistake, I will continue to fight for the justice and equality for marginalized people everywhere. So, again, thank you for all of the support, thank you for faith, and thank you to God.”

In a statement obtained by EW, Smollett’s lawyer Patricia Brown Holmes said: “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him. Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. 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 judgement.

Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. 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.”

Paul Beaty/AP/REX/Shutterstock

According to CBS Chicago, the Cook County State Attorney’s Office said in their statement: “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.”

Earlier this month, a federal grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts for “false report of offense,” related to the racial and homophobic attack that police said Smollett staged against himself on Jan. 29.

Last month, Empire executive producers announced that Smollett would be removed from the last two episodes of the hit series’ fifth season. When reached on Tuesday, Fox and 20th Century Television said, “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.” The official Twitter account for the Empire writers also weighed in with an interesting emoji choice.

Smollett’s family, which includes his sister and Friday Night Lights alum Jurnee Smollett-Bell, released their own statement following the latest news: “Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared. Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of. He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated. All charges have been dismissed and his record expunged (cleared). The painful incidents we’ve witnessed him endure over the past 7 weeks have been heartbreaking and unjust to say the least. While many were quick to rush to judgement before hearing the actual truth, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light. We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. We thank God and our village for standing by us during this trying time.”

This post has been updated with additional information.

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