Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Arts&Culture | By Matthew Castillo

Jussie Smollett expected in court for his arraignment

Jussie Smollett expected in court for his arraignment

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago court on Thursday to new charges that he falsely reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault on a city street.

Smollett's attorney entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the 36-year-old actor, who stood next to his attorney with his hands behind his back. The next court date was scheduled for April 17.

"We look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out", Glandian said.

Interestingly enough, Empire returned for its Season 5 midseason premiere on Wednesday, marking the show's first new episode since Smollett's alleged January 29 attack.

Prosecutors claim Smollett, who is black and gay, paid two brothers with whom he was acquainted, to carry out a racial and homophobic attack, hoping the incident would advance his career and secure him a higher salary on Empire.

A grand jury in Chicago indicted him on 16 felony counts, which his lawyers have called "prosecutorial overkill".

The "Empire" actor is accused of staging a fake attack on himself because he was allegedly dissatisfied with his pay. When Watkins warned him to show up on time for each future court hearing or risk jail time, Smollett replied, "Yes, your honor". Despite a flood of personal texts and other evidence that prosecutors presented in that late February hearing, Smollett has always insisted on his innocence and that he did not stage the attack. The men were released without being charged.

The Empire actor was arraigned on a 16-count felony indictment, of which he has denied all charges.

The subsection of the IL law states: "A person commits disorderly conduct when he or she knowingly".

It has already been announced that Smollett's character won't appear in the final two episodes of the season, and TMZ reports it will be explained that he is "out of the country". "(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". The decision was made to "avoid further disruption on set", producers said.

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