Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to the six new charges brought against him over a January 2019 attack against the actor, for which he was later accused of filing a false report.
His next court date is set for March 18, according to the Chicago Tribune. His bond was set at $20,000 and Smollett was released on his own recognizance. Representatives for Smollett did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The indictment, handed out Feb. 11 by Special Prosecutor Dan Webb, charged Smollett with six counts of disorderly conduct. Smollett is specifically charged with making “four separate false reports” to the Chicago Police, regarding a Jan. 29, 2019 incident where he claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime.
Last year, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in connection with the attack against the “Empire” actor. He was accused of lying to police about the incident, in which he said he was randomly attacked by two men shouting racial and homophobic slurs in his Chicago neighborhood. He plead not guilty and had repeatedly maintained his innocence.
A little more than a month after he was first arrested, all 16 counts were suddenly dropped by Cook County against Smollett in return for the actor forfeiting his bond to the city of Chicago and community service. That decision was heavily criticized by both the Chicago Police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Chicago Police had initially investigated the Jan. 29 attack against Smollett as a hate crime. But after interviewing the two main persons of interest, Olabinjo (Ola) and Abimbola (Abel) Osundairo, police then turned their attention to Smollett himself. The Osundairo brothers told investigators that it was Smollett who orchestrated his own attack. During a press conference in February, hours after Smollett’s surrender, Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the actor staged an attack on himself because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
Smollett was later fired from “Empire,” which is in the middle of its sixth and final season. He last appeared on the Fox drama in April and was written out of the last few episodes of its fifth season. Both Fox and “Empire” producers had previously told TheWrap that Smollett would not return for the show’s final episodes this spring.