Jussie Smollett appears in court

Jussie Smollett appears in court

Smollett's legal team entered the plea Thursday at a courthouse in Chicago, while the Empire actor and singer looked on silently.

The indictment says Smollett told police he was attacked around 2 a.m.by two men who used racial and homophobic slurs. With all the drama surrounding him and his legal situation, there has been talk of the show not continuing further, which has yet to be confirmed.

Smollett is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

According to Deadline, the actor pleaded not guilty in front of the grand jury in Chicago today, shortly after he arrived at court.

Watkins granted Smollett's request to be allowed to leave the state meet with his lawyers in NY and California, but said the actor must give the court at least 48 hours' prior notice. The next court date was scheduled for April 17. Police initially investigated the case as a possible hate crime. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense", Smollett's attorneys said in February.

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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.

Smollett has been suspended from the show and was written out of the final two episodes of this season. The actor's attorney Mark Geragos called the indictment "vindictive" and "prosecutorial overkill".

"The fact of an indictment was not unexpected", the statement read.

Chicago police eventually arrested Smollett on suspicion that he had faked the incident "to promote his career", saying at a news conference last month that he paid his would-be attackers - brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo - to carry it out. "(4) Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed".

According to prosecutors, Smollett wrote a $3,500 check to two brothers and gave them $100 to buy the rope, ski masks, gloves and red baseball caps used in the supposed January 29 attack.

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