On Thursday, Empire actor Jussie Smollett made an appearance in a Chicago court and pled not guilty to the 16 counts against him in connection to an alleged hate crime ruse.
Smollett appeared before Judge Steven Watkins along with his lawyer, Tina Glandian who spoke on behalf of the Empire actor, Fox News reports.
Smollett is scheduled to appear in court again on April 17.
If anyone expected Smollett to hide his face and bow his head in shame, that didn’t happen during his appearance as he strutted in front of the cameras with what appeared to be his family and friends in tow to offer up his non-guilty plea. He was also joined by his TV dad actor Terrance Howard.
The actor alleges he was attacked by two men who beat him, shouted homophobic slurs and poured bleach on him. He said they used the phrase “MAGA country” during the alleged assault.
While first appearing as a victim, Smollett’s case shifted pretty quickly when police identified two brothers who allege that they helped Smollett orchestrate the attack and was paid to do so.
Smollett was indicted on 16 counts of filing a false police report in connection with an assault he alleges took place in the early morning hours of Jan. 29 in Chicago.
But even his family couldn’t help him out of this dire situation once Chicago PD set their sights on Smollett, but they tried.
It was also recently learned that Smollett’s friends and family tried to influence his case and called up the Cook County prosecutor asking that she convince the Police superintendent to get the FBI on the case, citing major leaks within the department as a detriment to the investigation.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the city’s top prosecutor, recused herself from the case after talking the case over with an influential person, Tina Tchen, a Chicago attorney and former chief of staff for former First Lady Michelle Obama. She also talked to a member of Smollett’s family too.
Smollett is out on $100,000 bond. He has denied the charges of creating a fake hate crime hoax.