“Empire” star Jussie Smollett met with the show’s cast and crew Thursday night to apologize about any embarrassment he may have caused after the Chicago Police Department accused him of staging an assault in order to boost his career. 

The actor, however, maintained that he was innocent in the affair, blaming the legal system and the media for his struggles, according to a person at the meeting who told CNN they were shocked and dismayed.


Smollett was arrested Thursday and charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report about a January assault in which he said the assailants hurled racial and homophobic slurs and poured a chemical on him. Police said he paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the assault.

Smollett could face one to three years in prison for the charges. He was released on $100,000 bail and was forced to relinquish his passport.

While Fox, which airs “Empire,” initially stood by Smollett as suspicions about his story started to come to the surface, it said it is considering its options about the actor’s return to the show following his arrest.

“We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process,” 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said in a Thursday statement to The Hill.

“We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

The show is filming its season finale this week and next week. A Fox executive told CNN Smollett was on set on Thursday but is “on hold” for Friday’s shoot.

The controversy has ignited political debate.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district MORE quickly condemned the reported attack, calling it “horrible,” but as reports emerged that Smollett was being charged, the president tweeted on Thursday.

“What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA,” the president asked in a tweet to the actor.