Jussie Smollett is pleading not guilty to the 16 charges stemming from his allegedly lying to police about being attacked in Chicago.
The Empire star was back in court on Thursday for his arraignment, where he revealed his stance.
It’s being said he will need to attend every court date from here on out, but is allowed to travel to Los Angeles and New York for meetings with his lawyers. He only needs to give the court 48 hours notice, but upon arrival back in Chicago, must check in within 24 hours.
Additionally, the actor will be back in court mid-April.
In case you missed it, the 36-year-old was indicted on 16 counts late last week for “false report of offense” — all class 4 felonies. If found guilty, he could be sent away to prison for years!
His attorney, Mark Geragos, released the following statement after the indictment:
“The fact of an indictment was not unexpected. We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie…”
And Geragos continued:
“This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records. Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption.”
This all started back in January, with Smollett claiming he was attacked late at night by two white men who recognized him from the hit FOX show. After hurling racist and homophobic slurs at him, his attackers allegedly beat him, even putting a noose around his neck.
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.
They also shared that the two men who allegedly staged the attack with Smollett, Ola and Abel Osundairo (pictured below), are cooperating witnesses, and have since spoken out on the “hoax” via their lawyer.
Gloria Schmidt shared at the time:
“They worked with Jussie, they had known him, they were friends with him. This was someone who the brothers thought could help their career. Obviously, Mr. Smollett has connections, he had a good position withFox, so this was someone that they had trusted to consider their best interests.”
“It’s unfortunately a very complicated relationship for them because if you are friends and I’m saying, ‘Hey, I am going to pay you for training, I am also asking you to do me a favor,’ … and the favor was to stage the attack.”
Jussie has not responded in return, and hasn’t publicly spoken out since his controversial Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts.
We’ll continue to keep you updated as we’re sure we’ll be hearing more about the case ahead of his upcoming April court date.
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