Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to staging hate-crime attack

Lewis Collier
March 14, 2019

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago court on Thursday to new charges that he falsely reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault on a city street.

Smollett's case was assigned to Judge Steven Watkins, who told the actor he must be present and on time for every court date.

Smollett reportedly told police that two men approached him and began hurling racist and homophobic slurs at him.

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.

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. Chicago police say the money was for the staged attack, while Smollett claims it was for a five-week nutrition and workout program, as noted in the check's memo.

Smollett is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. Chicago police pushed back and accused Smollett of faking the letter as well. Smollett is next scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, April 17.

Parents sending unimmunised children to school despite warnings
He made the claim based on the experiences of just 12 children, and no other study since has been able to replicate his results. When the current coalition came to power, it said it would drop mandatory immunisations although it later reversed its position.

"Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption", the lawyer, Mark Geragos, said last week. "We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that members of the media can see the actual evidence - and what we feel is actually going to be a lack of evidence - against Mr. Smollett". 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.

Smollett is now facing 16 felony counts.

Smollett returned to the small screen Thursday night on Empire, but his future on the Fox show remains up in the air. Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says.

Smollett is accused of staging an attack on himself on January 29.

"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. The decision was made to "avoid further disruption on set", producers said.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER