Empire actor Jussie Smollett has officially pleaded not guilty to charges he lied to police about a gay hate crime.
One of Smollett’s lawyers, Tina Glandian, entered the plea at his arraignment in a Chicago courtroom this morning (14 March).
Smollett is due in court again on 17 April. He could face up to three years in prison.
Jussie Smollett: A background
This story began in late January when Smollett reported to Chicago police two men attacked him.
The investigation took a turn when police arrested two brothers. The brothers claimed Smollett paid them to help him stage the attack.
Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted actor Smollett on 16 felony counts.
The indictment stated Smollett filed a false report and then charged him with disorderly conduct.
According to CBS Chicago, the Cook County grand jury’s indictment stated: ‘Jussie Smollett knew that at the time […] there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed.’
Each of the counts covers various alleged false statements Smollett made to police officers. This includes alleged acts Smollett reportedly falsely described to officers, including two men attacking him and pouring a chemical on him.
Smollett was first charged with one count of disorderly conduct in February.
He continues to maintain his innocence as a victim and his attorneys said they would be mounting an ‘aggressive defense’.