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Jussie Smollett Absent from ‘Empire’ TV Promo After Hoax Attack

Jussie Smollett Absent from ‘Empire’ TV Promo After Hoax Attack

Jussie Smollett is pleading not guilty to the 16 charges stemming from his allegedly lying to police about being attacked in Chicago.

Lawyer Tina Glandian entered the plea on behalf of the 36-year-old actor during a hearing in Cook County Circuit Court after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to oversee the case, including the trial.

Smollett will be allowed to travel to NY and California to meet with his lawyers as long as he notifies the court 48 hours ahead of time.

Smollett appeared in court in Chicago to answer the indictment, which a grand jury returned last Friday.

"What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie..." The charges all are Class 4 felonies, the lowest category of felony offense under IL law.

"As more evidence, such as text messages, phone records, social media records, bank records, surveillance video and the receipt from the purchase of the rope was obtained by investigators, the investigation shifted from a Hate Crime to a Disorderly Conduct investigation [against Smollett]", prosecutors explained in their bond proffer.




The Jussie Smollett case has brought doubts over the future of Empire, which has yet to be renewed for a sixth season.

Police said the two brothers wore gloves during the staged attack, and did punch Smollett, but the scratches and bruises on Smollett's face most likely were self-inflicted.

"Empire" producers made a decision to remove Smollett's character, Jamal, from the final two episodes of the season. The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective. Despite a flood of personal texts and other evidence that prosecutors presented in that late February hearing, Smollett has always insisted on his innocence and that he did not stage the attack.

One of Smollett's attorneys, Mark Geragos, responded to the indictment in a statement to ET. Smollett has denied the attack was a hoax.

Smollett is accused of staging an attack on himself on January 29. Otherwise, Smollett can not leave IL without the court's permission while he is free on bail, and Watkins admonished the actor to be present an on-time for all of his upcoming court dates.

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