Jussie Smollett Appears In Court Over Hate Crime Attack

15 March, 2019, 04:20 | Author: Heather Diaz
  • Article Image Update Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to 16 Charges Lying to Police

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in an IL courtroom on Thursday to disorderly conduct charges over allegations he staged a hate crime and lied to police.

Actor Jussie Smollett (C) and team arrive for a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 12, 2019 in Chicago.

Smollett's next hearing was scheduled for April 17.

According to reports, Smollett pleaded not guilty to almost 20 counts of disorderly conduct. The charges all are Class 4 felonies, the lowest category of felony offense under IL law.

"Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption", the lawyer, Mark Geragos, said last week. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie.

"Mr. Smollet is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing", the statement began.

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Gloria Schmidt, the attorney for the brothers allegedly involved in the incident, was also seated in the courtroom.

He is accused of sending himself a threatening letter and hiring two acquaintances to stage a street attack in downtown Chicago, complete with homophobic and racial slurs, while invoking Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

Smollett is accused of lying to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men on January 29 in downtown Chicago. Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says. Smollett has denied the attack was a hoax. The judge granted a $100,000 bail, and Smollett paid a $10,000 bond. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense", Smollett's attorneys said in February.

"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.

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.

Police at the time said the attack was a publicity stunt because the actor was upset about his pay on the show.

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