Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty in Hoax Assault Case

Tanya Cunningham
March 15, 2019

Empire actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail after posting bond on 21 February 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

Smollett will be allowed to travel to NY and California to meet with his lawyers as long as he notifies the court 48 hours ahead of time.

Smollett will next be due in court on April 17.

The Empire actor was arraigned on a 16-count felony indictment, of which he has denied all charges. The charges all are Class 4 felonies, the lowest category of felony offense under IL law.

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

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

Smollett was previously charged last month with felony disorderly conduct for making a false report after he told police he was attacked in January by masked supporters of President Donald Trump who beat him, slung a noose round his neck and poured a liquid chemical on him while shouting racist and homophobic slurs. After being picked up by police, the brothers confessed their involvement and became cooperating witnesses.

Later developments cast doubt on Smollett's account, including the questioning of two suspects - a pair of Nigerian brothers, one of whom worked as a personal trainer on a music video of Smollett's - who were later released without being charged. Several people could be heard chanting "We are here today to support black people", "We are here today to support LGBTQ people" and "Justice for Jussie" as the actor arrived and walked into the building wearing a dark gray coat and sunglasses.

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked".

Gloria Schmidt, the attorney for the brothers allegedly involved in the incident, was also seated in the courtroom. Chicago police pushed back and accused Smollett of faking the letter as well. "So it's like a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, 'Can you do this for me?'" Schmidt said.

A judge is expected to be assigned to Jussie Smollett's disorderly conduct case when the "Empire" actor returns to court Thursday. Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle's newsletter.

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