A confident Jussie Smollett arrived at a Cook County courthouse for his arraignment on Thursday (March 14). As the disgraced Empire actor approached the building, he was greeted by the sounds of several protesters shouting, “We are here to support black people. We are here today today to support LGBTQ people.”
Shortly after proceedings began, Smollett and his legal team entered a plea of not guilty on all 16 felony counts. According to TMZ, he’ll be required at every upcoming court date and allowed to travel to Los Angeles and New York for appointments with his attorneys.
In January, Smollett told police he was brutally attacked by two men hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him. As the details surrounding the alleged assault started to take shape, investigators came to the conclusion the attack was staged.
As a result, Smollett was charged with a disorderly conduct felony. But earlier this month, a grand jury handed down the 16-count indictment, which Smollett’s attorney referred to as “overkill.”
Smollett is expected back in court next month.
A grand jury has indicted Jussie Smollett on 16 felony accounts for filing false police reports about an alleged hate crime. According to CBS Chicago, a Cook County grand jury returned the 16-count felony indictment against him on Thursday (March 7).
Smollett was originally charged by the State Attorney’s Office with a disorderly conduct felony, but the new indictments compound Smollett’s situation even further.
The grand jury handed over two sets of charges: one for Smollett’s initial report to the Chicago Police Department and the other for Smollett’s second interview with investigators. Both are Class 4 felonies.
The indictment partially reads, “Jussie Smollett knew that at the time … there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed.”