Jussie Smollett when he was arrested in 2019
The drama in the Jussie Smollett case continues as the former television star is released on bail pending the outcome of his appeal.
The actor, who has maintained his innocence, was allowed to go home by an appeals court on Wednesday after it noted that he had been convicted for a non-violence offence.
Smollett paid $150,000 bail after spending just six nights in jail. The 39-year-old was seen leaving the prison surrounded by what appeared to be bodyguards before getting into a car and driving off.
Last week he was sentenced to 150 days in jail and 30 months probation, fined $25,000 and ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution. He was found guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police in December last year.
Smollett’s jailing sparked a fierce debate about the appropriateness of the sentence. Some said it was justified due to the waste of taxpayer resources as well as his actions potentially affecting the credibility of true hate crime victims.
Others, however, argued that it was too harsh and suggested that he may have been the victim of racial bias in the criminal justice system.
His former Empire costar Taraji P Henson was among those to call for Smollet’s release on social media. “I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime,” she said.
“No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal. He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING! My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation because in this case that would seem fair.”
In January 2019, Smollett claimed that he’d been attacked in downtown Chicago by two masked men in what appeared to be a hate crime. He said they had thrown a “chemical substance” on him, and tied a noose around his neck.
Following police investigations, he was accused of paying two brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, $3,500 to stage the assault to boost his visibility and increase his salary on the hit show Empire.
The fallout from the accusations saw the star being dropped from his role in the series and becoming a pariah, far removed from his previous status as a lauded performer and LGBTQ activist and role model.
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