Actor and singer Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct charges after he was accused of staging his own assault for publicity.
The Empire star, who claimed he had been beaten up by two white men outside his apartment in Chicago at the end of January (19), appeared in court on Thursday (14Mar19) to enter a plea to multiple charges of giving a false account to the police.
His attorney, Tina Glandian, offered up the not guilty plea on behalf of her client to the 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
He was charged and arrested on 21 February (19) and indicted last week (08Mar19).
During Thursday’s hearing, Judge Steven Watkins expanded Smollett’s travel restrictions, allowing him to travel to Los Angeles and to New York consult with his lawyers on the case.
Smollett, who will be back in court on 17 April (19), made his first appearance as Jamal Lyon on Empire since the scandal on Wednesday night.
He is currently free on $100,000 bail but faces more than three years behind bars and a hefty fine if found guilty.
Smollett maintains he did not stage the attack.
Cameras were allowed into Smollett’s arraignment hearing after his attorney Mark Geragos agreed there should be a still and video camera in the court. Geragos felt the televised coverage would help to stop the “false information” that had been spread about his client.
“He wants to hold his head up high, show confidence in his innocence,” Smollett’s representative, Anne Kavanagh, said. “He’s not hiding from anything.”
If the case goes to trial, the presiding judge will determine whether or not the media presence will still be allowed.
– Cover Media0