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Smollett pleads 'not guilty' to felony charges

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 14, 2019 - Duration: 01:21s

Smollett pleads 'not guilty' to felony charges

"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.

Freddie Joyner reports.

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Smollett pleads 'not guilty' to felony charges

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

In an indictment by a grand jury last Thursday, Smollett was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct... Each count carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

In January, Smollett told police he was attacked by masked supporters of President Trump who beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical on him while shouting racist and homophobic slurs.

Chicago detectives investigated his claims as a hate crime and concluded the story was a hoax.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT SUPERINTENDENT EDDIE JOHNSON, SAYING (FEBRUARY 21, 2019): "Why would anyone, especially a African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" Police also said Smollett hoped the incident would advance his career and secure him a higher salary.

Openly-gay Smollett plays a gay musician on Fox’s hip-hop drama "Empire" that has been on the air since 2015.

He was removed from the last two episodes of the current season and his future on the show is now up in the air.

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