'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty

Is the Jussie Smollett Case Enough to Bring Down

Is the Jussie Smollett Case Enough to Bring Down "Empire?"

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. When reporting the January attack, Smollett claimed that he was assaulted by two masked men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured what he believed was bleach over him and put a noose around his neck. 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, who left the courthouse without speaking to reporters, 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.

The Empire star will be allowed to travel to NY and Los Angeles without asking court for permission.

Smollett also was in court Tuesday for a hearing to determine whether a judge should allow cameras in court. But the tide began to turn just days later, when police announced that the trajectory of the investigation had changed, and that Smollett would be treated as a suspect. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense", Smollett's attorneys said in February.

One of Smollett's attorneys, Mark Geragos, responded to the indictment in a statement to ET. Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says.

It has already been announced that Smollett's character won't appear in the final two episodes of the season, and TMZ reports it will be explained that he is "out of the country".

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. His attorneys have called the charges against him "prosecutorial overkill". Judge Steven Watkins, who was assigned earlier Thursday as the trial judge, set Smollett's next court date for April 17. "We stand behind the work of detectives and refer any comment on indictment to prosecutors".

A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told authorities he received a threatening letter at work.

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