Saturday, 23 March, 2019

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

Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago
Charles Bowen | 14 March, 2019, 19:10

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago court on Thursday to new charges that he falsely reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault on a city street.

Smollett's lawyer Tina Glandian, entered the plea on Smollett's behalf just hours after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned the high-profile case. The 36-year-old "Empire" actor was indicted last week for allegedly lying to Chicago police about a hate-crime attack and had been charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. He scheduled the next hearing for 17 April.

An attorney for the Osundairo brothers, Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola", has said a $3500 check the actor gave the brothers was for both personal training and to stage an attack.

Smollett has denied staging the attack and maintains his innocence. 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.

Judge Watkins approved a request from Smollett's lawyers that the actor be allowed to travel freely to NY and California to consult with his bicoastal legal teams.

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In court today, the actor has been given a new set of travel restrictions, being allowed to travel freely between NY and Los Angeles to meet with his lawyers. The actor's attorney Mark Geragos called the indictment "vindictive" and "prosecutorial overkill".

Cameras were allowed in the courtroom Thursday, though there was no live feed of the proceedings.

Smollett arrived at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse shortly before 9 a.m., greeted by a handful of supporters holding signs reading "I Stand With Jussie" and "I Believe Jussie Smollett". Each of the 16 counts against him covers various alleged acts that Smollett falsely described to the officers-including that he was hit by two men, that they yelled racial and homophobic slurs and poured a chemical on him.

Smollett's arraignment hearing followed the midseason premiere of "Empire", which resumed Wednesday.

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