Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to 16 Felony Counts

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to 16 Felony Counts

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in an IL courtroom on Thursday to disorderly conduct charges over allegations he staged a hate crime and lied to police.

The plea comes less than one week after a Chicago grand jury indicted the embattled actor on 16 felony counts in relation to the actor's alleged staging of a hate crime against himself in January.

As he entered the Chicago court Thursday, Smollett acknowledged supporters who had gathered outside. The plea of not guilty to charges of filing a phony police report came after Judge Steven Watkins was randomly assigned to preside over the high-profile case.

Smollett has denied that he staged the attack and maintains he is innocent.

"There has been a lot of misinformation in this case that has been presented as fact and evidence against Mr. Smollett, which is demonstrably false", said Tina Glandian, the attorney for the actor.

Smollett returned to the small screen Thursday night on Empire, but his future on the Fox show remains up in the air.

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Smollett also was in court Tuesday for a hearing to determine whether a judge should allow cameras in court.

Smollett has been suspended from the show and was written out of the final two episodes of this season.

One of Smollett's attorneys, Mark Geragos, responded to the indictment in a statement to ET.

Judge Watkins approved a request from Smollett's lawyers that the actor be allowed to travel freely to NY and California to consult with his bicoastal legal teams. Police say Smollett told detectives that two masked men beat him while hurling racist and homophobic slurs, and that they poured an unknown substance on him and hung a noose around his neck before fleeing.

In a searing live press conference on that same day, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was "shameful' what Smollett allegedly try to pull off and accused him of perpetuating a "hoax". (4) Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed".

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