Jussie Smollett entered a formal not guilty plea to 16 counts of disorderly conduct in a Chicago court on Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Smollett was indicted by a Cook County grand jury on those 16 felony counts last week after being accused of lying to police regarding a Jan. 29 incident, in which he said he was randomly attacked by two men shouting racial and homophobic slurs in his Chicago neighborhood.
The “Empire” star was originally charged with one felony count for filing a false police report by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office last month.
Judge Steven Watkins has been assigned to preside over Smollett’s case, with the actor set to return to court on April 17, according to CBS Chicago.
Representatives for Smollett and a spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for confirmation.
Smollett surrendered himself to Chicago police on Feb. 21, hours after he was formally charged. He was released from police custody later that afternoon, after posting bail and surrendering his passport following a bond hearing.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” Smollett’s team said in a statement that day. “The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
Within hours of his release from police custody, Smollett returned to work on the set of “Empire.” However, the following day, executive producers announced that they had decided to remove the actor — who plays the openly gay Jamal Lyon — from the final two episodes of the show’s current season.
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During a press conference last month, hours after Smollett’s surrender on Feb. 21, Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the actor staged an attack on himself because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.” He also told reporters the police were in possession of a $3,500 check, which he said Smollett used to pay brothers Olabinjo (“Ola”) and Abimbola (“Abel”) Osundairo for the incident.
The Osundairos were released without charges Feb. 15, following an arrest and 48-hour hold, after the police said “new evidence” had emerged and that the investigation’s “trajectory” had changed course. Smollett was arrested a few days later.