Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Culture | By Jeremy Gray

Jussie Smollett Enters Not Guilty Plea

Jussie Smollett Enters Not Guilty Plea

Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 14, 2019.

Smollett's lawyer Tina Glandian, entered the plea on Smollett's behalf just hours after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned the high-profile case. He says the men beat him, used racial and homophobic slurs, poured an unknown substance on him and wrapped a noose around his neck before fleeing. Smollett also told police that the assailants "yelled pro-'Make America Great Again' [MAGA] comments" during the attack.

After the alleged attack, Smollett received support on social media, including from celebrities and Democratic presidential candidates. Allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful and if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model. Police initially investigated the case as a possible hate crime.

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. Smollett has maintained his innocence, and one of his lawyers called the 16-count indictment "redundant and vindictive" in a statement to The Washington Post.

This week, Smollett's attorney Mark Geragos went in-in on the Chicago Police Department over the headline-generating charges.

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- Police say Smollett is officially suspected of filing a false police report by claiming he was attacked and that a grand jury was being presented with evidence from detectives and hearing testimony from the two brothers.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for the actor said that she would "welcome cameras in the courtroom" during a trial "so that the public and the media can see the actual evidence and what we believe is the lack of evidence against Mr. Smollett and we look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out".

Not surprisingly, Smollett's first episode back had a lot of strong reaction on Twitter, with many admitting that it was hard to watch Smollett play his character Jamal without thinking about his real-life legal troubles.

Smollett found fame on Fox musical drama Empire, but was removed from the last two episodes of the show's latest season amid the controversy.

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