Disgraced "Empire" actor and alleged "hate crime" hoaxer Jussie Smollett was in court in Chicago yesterday for his arraignment. He pleaded "not guilty" to 16 counts of disorderly conduct stemming from his alleged self-executed "hate crime" hoax gone astray.
Fox News reports:
"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago courtroom Thursday to 16 charges stemming from an alleged hate crime hoax.
Smollett's lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered the plea on Smollett’s behalf just hours after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned the case. The next court date was scheduled for April 17.
Smollett was initially charged with one count of lying to the authorities on Feb. 20. Last week, a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of lying to authorities — eight counts for what he told the officer who responded to the report of the Jan. 29 attack in downtown Chicago, and eight counts for what he later told a detective about being the victim of a brutal racist and homophobic beating by two masked men.
Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, staged the incident because he was unhappy with his salary on the Fox show and wanted to promote his career.
The actor, aged 36, is currently free after his having paid a $100,000 bond. He has denied the allegations that he attempted to plan and execute his own self-inflicted "hate crime."
The Smollett incident dates back to January 29 of this year. On that evening, as Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro has reported, "Smollett, who is black and gay, alleged that two men approached him at 2 a.m. in Chicago, where they shouted 'f*****' and 'n*****,' tried to wrap a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him. He also told TMZ that the men shouted, 'This is MAGA country.'" After receiving fawning media coverage and sycophancy from much of the political Left, it was later revealed by Chicago police that they believe the entire "hate crime" was a self-induced hoax.
As USA Today notes, the alleged hoax began to unravel when "the bodybuilder brothers Ola Osundairo, 27, and Abel Osundairo, 25, were interrogated until, police said, they explained: Smollett, whom they knew through 'Empire' and working out together, had paid them to help him stage a hoax attack."
Smollett's next court date is set for April 17. Neither his defense team nor prosecutors commented yesterday, following the arraignment.
According to USA Today, the indictment contains 16 charges because "the grand jury charged Smollett for every time he allegedly uttered a falsehood to police investigators about what he said happened to him" on the evening in question. According to NPR, each of the 16 counts carries the possibility of three years in prison.
Smollett's legal defense team has nonetheless remained defiant.
"There has been a lot of misinformation in this case that's been presented as fact and evidence against Mr. Smollett that is demonstrably false," Smollett's attorney Tina Glandian said after a hearing on Tuesday. "We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that members of the media can see the actual evidence — and what we feel is actually going to be a lack of evidence — against Mr. Smollett. And we look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out."