Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to 16 Felony Counts

Is the Jussie Smollett Case Enough to Bring Down

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building after attending a hearing on whether cameras will be allowed in future proceedings of his trial on felony charges, in Chicago, March 12.

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

Smollett, who is black and openly gay, had told police he was attacked as he was walking home around 2 a.m. on January 29.

Cameras were rolling during the court hearing Thursday, as Smollett entered his plea at the Cook County Courthouse at 26th and California. Police and prosecutors have said that attack was a hoax, but Smollett's attorneys said they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case. Smollett has maintained his innocence, and one of his lawyers called the 16-count indictment "redundant and vindictive" in a statement to The Washington Post. Otherwise, Smollett can not leave IL without the court's permission while he is free on bail, and Watkins admonished the actor to be present an on-time for all of his upcoming court dates.

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Actor Jussie Smollett denies lying to police and faking a hate crime attack; Matt Finn reports from Chicago.

Smollett is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. He scheduled the next hearing for April 17.

Not much later, Chicago police revealed they had evidence pointing to the Hollywood star lying about the attack, accusing him of paying his "attackers", all so he could get more attention and score a bigger salary from Empire. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense", Smollett's attorneys said in February. Police initially investigated the case as a possible hate crime.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment states.

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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".

"The fact of an indictment was not unexpected", the statement read.

A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told authorities he received a threatening letter at work. The decision was made to "avoid further disruption on set", producers said.

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