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'Empire' actor Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about Chicago attack

14 March 2019, 07:09 | Regina Holmes

Actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in court Thursday to accusations that he staged a hate crime and filed a false police report

Actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in court Thursday to accusations that he staged a hate crime and filed a false police report

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago courtroom Thursday on 16 charges stemming from an alleged hate crime hoax.

The "Empire" actor arrived at Illinois' Cook County courthouse shortly before 9 a.m. local time ahead of a hearing to assign a judge to his case, followed by his arraignment.

His lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered the plea on Smollett's behalf, according to the AP.

In an indictment returned by a grand jury last Thursday, Smollett, who is black, openly gay and plays a gay musician on Fox's hip-hop drama, was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct alleging he gave false accounts of an attack on him to police investigators.

"Yes, sir", Smollett said in a soft voice as the judge instructed him that he would next return to court on April 12.

Smollett, who is black and gay, told police in January that he had been attacked late at night in the Streeterville neighborhood by two people who yelled racist and homophobic slurs, hit him, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an unidentified chemical substance on him. Prosecutors said one had supplied Smollett with "designer drugs" in the past. Chicago police say the money was for the staged attack, while Smollett claims it was for a five-week nutrition and workout program, as noted in the check's memo.




Smollett has denied staging the attack and maintains his innocence.

After Smollett was arrested on February 21, Chicago prosecutors read out in court a lengthy series of text messages between Smollett and brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo that painted a picture of a clearly pre-planned attack.

Smollett's attorney Mark Geragos called the charges "prosecutorial overkill" in a statement last week.

Watkins granted Smollett's request to be allowed to meet with lawyers in NY and California, but said the actor must give the court at least 48 hours' prior notice.

Almost a month and a half after Jussie Smollett claimed he was brutally assaulted in the streets of Chicago, theEmpire actor appeared in court today to enter a plea to multiple charges of having given a false account to the police.



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