Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty To Disorderly Conduct Charges

Angelo Anderson
March 14, 2019

Empire actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges accusing him of lying to the police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago in January.

The 36-year-old actor arrived at the courthouse shortly before 9 a.m., the station reports, greeted by a handful of supporters holding signs reading "I Stand With Jussie" and "I Believe Jussie Smollett, "reports CBS Chicago".

Within minutes, Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to his case, with the arraignment beginning an hour later, according to NBC Chicago. On Friday, a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct - one for each supposed lie he told police - for allegedly staging his own hate crime. According to a tweet from Chicago's CBS affiliate, Smollett will be allowed to travel to NY and Los Angeles without asking the court permission as he awaits trial.

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.

Smollett has denied the allegations, and his attorney Mark Geragos described the 16-count indictment as "overkill". He said at least one of them had invoked President Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan by yelling "This is MAGA country" during the attack.


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.

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.

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. It was unclear Thursday if cameras had been allowed inside the courtroom.

Fox cut Smollett's character in "Empire" after he was arrested.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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