Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to 16 Felony Counts

Police claim that Jussie Smollett staged a homophobic and racist attack on himself

Empire actor Jussie Smollett has pleaded "not guilty" on his 16-count indictment for allegedly faking a hate crime attack. Police initially investigated the case as a possible hate crime.

Mark Geragos, one of Smollett's attorneys and a CNN legal analyst, said the actor maintains his innocence and called the indictment "prosecutorial overkill".

Smollett remained silent as he entered the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago wearing a suit and sunglasses. He has denied all allegations against him.

"Yes, sir", Smollett said in a soft voice as the judge instructed him that he would next return to court on April 12.

Police and prosecutors have said that Smollett hired two brothers to stage the attack.

The indictment says Smollett told police he was attacked around 2 a.m.by two men who used racial and homophobic slurs.

The Empire star was back in court on Thursday for his arraignment, where he revealed his stance.

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Smollett has denied that he staged the attack and maintains he is innocent.

- Police say Smollett turned over some, but not all, of the phone records detectives requested as part of their investigation. Smollett's attorneys have said they welcome cameras in court, as a counter to "misinformation" they claim has been leaked to the media since he reported being attacked on a Chicago street in January. "Jussie has been a person of high calibre and character".

- Police release the two men without charges after arresting them on suspicion of assaulting Smollett and holding them for almost 48 hours. Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said police have the check. Police and prosecutors have said that attack was a hoax, but Smollett's attorneys said they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.

Smollett is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

In case you missed it, the 36-year-old was indicted on 16 counts late last week for "false report of offense" - all class 4 felonies.

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. A decision on whether he will remain with the show beyond that has not been made.

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