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Jussie Smollett appeared in a local Chicago courtroom Thursday morning to enter his plea for disorderly conduct charges, stemming from his alleged January attack.
Chicago police have accused the Empire star of lying about being the victim of a hate crime and filing a false police report about the January 29 attack. However, Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal and his lawyers said in a statement that the actor has vowed to fight the charges.
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At Thursday’s hearing in Chicago’s Cook County Court, Smollett’s lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered a not guilty plea on behalf of her client, who is facing 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
Back in January, Smollett said he was attacked by two white men, who hurled racist and homophobic slurs his way. However, police allege Smollett planned the assault with Nigerian-American brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, as a publicity stunt because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on Empire.
In a February interview with Good Morning America, Smollett dismissed those who claimed he was lying about the incident.
“I’m pissed off. It’s like, you know, at first, it was a thing of, like, ‘Listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it,’ ’cause it’s the truth,” Smollett told Robin Roberts last month. “Then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, how can you doubt that? Like, how do you — how do you not believe that? It’s the truth.’”
If convicted, Smollett could face four years in prison and a $25,000 fine for each felony charge. He is expected to appear in court again on April 17.
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