Jussie Smollett expected in court for his arraignment

Article Image Update Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to 16 Charges Lying to Police

Is the Jussie Smollett Case Enough to Bring Down "Empire?"

The 36-year-old actor's lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered the plea Thursday on Smollett's behalf after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to oversee the case, including the trial.

Prosecutors allege that Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show, hired two friends to help him stage the attack on him in downtown Chicago early on the morning of January 29.

Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 14, 2019.

They also shared that the two men who allegedly staged the attack with Smollett, Ola and Abel Osundairo (pictured below), are cooperating witnesses, and have since spoken out on the "hoax" via their lawyer. On Friday, a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct - one for each supposed lie he told police - for allegedly staging his own hate crime.

"Mr. Smollet 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", the statement began.

"Yes, sir", Smollett said in a soft voice as the judge instructed him that he would next return to court on April 12.

Sega pulls Judgment from sale in Japan following drug arrest
Soon after the arrest, Sega issued a statement addressing Taki's arrest and announcing plans to stop all sales of Judgment . It's as yet unclear what this means for the western release of the game, which is due out in the United Kingdom in June.

He was charged in February with felony disorderly conduct.

The actor's plea comes just a month and a half after his original police report grabbed national attention.

The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective.

"We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that the public and the media can see the actual evidence and what we believe is actually going to be the lack of evidence against Mr. Smollett".

Fox cut Smollett's character in "Empire" after he was arrested. This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records.

A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told authorities he received a threatening letter at work. A decision on whether he will remain with the show beyond that has not been made.

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