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Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about attack

14 Марта 2019

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago courtroom Thursday on 16 charges stemming from an alleged hate crime hoax.

Smollett's attorney entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the 36-year-old actor, who stood next to his attorney with his hands behind his back.

Prosecutors allege that Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show, hired two friends to help him stage the attack on him in downtown Chicago early on the morning of January 29.

Presiding Criminal Court Judge LeRoy Martin allowed a camera in the courtroom for Thursday's arraignment, but it will be up to Watkins, Smollett's trial judge, to decide whether cameras will be in court for future hearings.

Prosecutors allege that Smollett, who is black and gay, staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to promote his career.

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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. Smollett's legal team entered the plea Thursday at a courthouse in Chicago, while the Empire actor and singer looked on silently.

The actor is accused of falsifying a police report, and lying to police. He was in court Tuesday for a hearing to determine whether a judge should allow cameras in court. Chicago police pushed back and accused Smollett of faking the letter as well. But the tide began to turn just days later, when police announced that the trajectory of the investigation had changed, and that Smollett would be treated as a suspect. He is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. The actor's attorney Mark Geragos called the indictment "vindictive" and "prosecutorial overkill".

Fox cut Smollett's character in "Empire" after he was arrested. "(4) Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed". Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says.

Police said, in reality, Smollett had paid Ola and Abel Osundairo to stage the attack. A decision on whether he will remain with the show beyond that has not been made.

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Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about attack