Jussie Smollett Spotted at 'Empire' Set After Posting Bond for Alleged Hate Crime Hoax

Actor Jussie Smollett was seen at the Empire set, just hours after he posted $10,000 of his $100,000 bond Thursday.

Two sources told Entertainment Tonight that Smollett was at the show's Chicago set. Another source told the outlet that the Empire producers were planning to meet Thursday to discuss Smollett's future on the show.

Smollett turned himself in to Chicago police Thursday morning after he was indicted for allegedly filing a false police report. He was later in court for a bond hearing, during which he was ordered to hand over his passport. The bond slip shows the deposit was posted by Lauren Criddle, a friend of Smollett's.

Smollett claimed he was the victim of a hate crime on Jan. 29, telling police he was attacked by two men who shouted homophobic and racial slurs at him. He also claimed the men threw a chemical at him and put a rope around his neck. However, police now say the attack was staged with the help of brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, whom Smollett allegedly paid $3,500 using a check.

Chicago police said Smollett was unhappy with the salary he was earning from Empire. However, two industry sources familiar with the situation told Vulture Smollett and his representatives at United Talent Agency complained to 20th Century Fox Television about his salary. The outlet's sources said Smollett's is paid "a bit below" $125,000 per episode.

"I'm left hanging my head and asking why. Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?" Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a press conference Thursday morning. "How can an individual who's been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?"

On Thursday night, Smollett's legal team issued a new statement, maintaining the actor's innocence.

"Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system," the statement reads, notes ABC 7 Chicago. "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."

As for 20th Century Fox TV, the studio only issued a short statement Thursday that reads, "We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

Smollett's next court date is set for March 14, when he enters a plea.


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