Empire’s Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct charges. He appeared today in court to enter his plea to multiple charges including giving a false police report.
With lawyers and family in the Cook County courthouse, a subdued Smollett expectedly plead “not guilty” to the 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct. First charged and arrested on February 21 over the seemingly violent January 29 incident that Chicago PD initially considered a “potential hate crime,” Smollett was indicted on the more than a dozen new charges on March 8.
Smollett will next be due in court on April 17. Earlier this morning, trial Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to the case and to conduct this morning’s arraignment.
In a searing live press conference on the day of Smollett’s arrest, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was “shameful’ what Smollett allegedly try to pull off and accused him of perpetuating a “hoax.”
Currently out on $100,000 bail, the actor who plays the openly gay Jamal Lyon on the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created Fox series could face more than three years behind bars and a $25,000 fine on each count of misrepresentation to cops and detectives. 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.
Today’s hearing also comes mere hours after the midseason return of Empire last night after an absence of several months
Though, Smollett has been written out of the final two episodes of the present fifth season, the actor was front and center in the long since filmed “My Fault Is Past” episode on Wednesday.