Jussie Smollett's brother has defended him against "public persecution" in a lengthy online essay.
The Empire actor claimed to have been attacked in Chicago in late January (19), with police officers initially investigating the incident as a hate crime, though he was indicted the following month for disorderly conduct for allegedly paying two brothers to fake the assault and for filing a false police report.
Since then, Jussie's defence team have reached a deal with prosecutors, with all charges against him dropped, and on Saturday (20Apr19) the star's brother, Jojo Smollett, shared an op-ed about the situation on BET.com.
In the piece titled, "What if Jussie is telling the truth?" Jojo contemplated the "public persecution" aimed at his sibling, and urged people to examine Jussie's side of the story.
"It has not yet been 90 days since my younger brother, Jussie Smollett, was assaulted on a cold winter night in Chicago. Within less than three months, his life has been turned upside down as my family and I have witnessed him endure unrelenting attacks to his character and reputation," he wrote. "Like so many others, this entire process quickly devolved from a focus on him as a victim of assault, to him being falsely accused and held responsible for a crime that was perpetrated against him. To define this experience as unjust would be an understatement."
During their initial investigation, Chicago police investigators claimed that Jussie had staged the alleged attack as a publicity stunt to help further his career, as he was not satisfied with his salary, and that he had sent himself a threatening letter prior to the brutal beating.
The 36-year-old has maintained his innocence, and in his article, Jojo hit out at officers over "numerous police leaks" which "convicted Jussie in the court of public opinion before he even entered a courtroom".
"To suggest that he staged his own attack to boost a sagging career is ludicrous. Jussie has a team of extremely effective agents, managers, publicists, and attorneys who helped him acquire career advancement. He wouldn't need to roll around on the icy ground of a Chicago street, staging an attack on himself to make this happen," insisted Jojo.
Elsewhere, Jojo claimed that Jussie was not interested in self-promotion and stated that he had been financially stable as he had recently directed episodes of Empire, was working on a deal with Fox to gain ownership of his music masters, and is developing two films.
While all charges against Jussie were dropped in return for him performing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 (£7,600) bond, he is still facing a lawsuit from Chicago city attorneys for the sum of $130,105.15 (£100,133.65) for the cost of overtime authorities had spent investigating the matter.
In addition, FBI officials are conducting an investigation into why the charges against him were dismissed.