An Illinois appeals court on Wednesday ordered actor Jussie Smollett released from jail while he appeals his conviction for lying to police about a hate crime attack against him.
The former “Empire” actor began serving 150 days in jail last week, as CrimeOnline previously reported. He was convicted on five counts of disorderly conduct — the charge used for lying to police — and acquitted on a sixth count.
Smollett has steadfastly insisted that he did not pay two men he knew from his work on “Empire” to stage the attack, as a special prosecutor contended. After his sentencing last week, he was led out of court proclaiming his innocence and that he is “not suicideal.”
“And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that,” he said.
Days after he began his sentence, Smollett was put into protective custody in the Cook County Jail, and then his brother, Jocqui Smollett, and his attorneys claimed that he had been put into the “psyche ward” because of fears of self-harm. Cook County police said the Smollett was being housed in an area for inmates who need extra treatment for mental health issues but said it was also used for “extra monitoring.”
Smollett’s attorneys asked the court to release the actor pending appeal, arguing that he would complete the sentence by the time the process was completed, the Associated Press reported. They also cited homophobic threats received by the actor in their request for emergency release. The special prosecutor responded to the motion by saying it was “factually incorrect.”
But two of the three members of the appellate court agreed with Smollett’s attorneys and said he could be released after posting $150,000 personal recognizance bond, which means he won’t put up any money but must guarantee he appears in court as required.
The AP said that Appellate Justices Thomas Hoffman and Joy Cunningham signed the order and Maureen Connors dissented.
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[Featured image: Jussie Smollett/Cook County Jail]