'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty

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

Wearing a navy dress coat and suit, the embattled Empire star entered a Chicago court on Thursday, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of filing a false police report.

The actor was arrested February 21, and police said at a media briefing that Smollett had faked the attack because he was "dissatisfied" with his salary for playing Jamal Lyon on "Empire".

According to a tweet from Chicago's CBS affiliate, Smollett will be allowed to travel to NY and Los Angeles without asking the court permission as he awaits trial.

Smollett's attorney entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the 36-year-old actor, who stood next to his attorney with his hands behind his back.

Smollett has denied that he staged the attack and maintains he is innocent.

Interestingly enough, Empire returned for its Season 5 midseason premiere on Wednesday, marking the show's first new episode since Smollett's alleged January 29 attack. A lawyer for the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, claims it was for both.

Smollett also was in court Tuesday for a hearing to determine whether a judge should allow cameras in court. His attorneys say they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.

He appeared before his newly assigned judge, Steven Watkins, in Chicago on Thursday, days after a grand jury indicted him on 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to investigators, according to Fox News. The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective. Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed his alleged attackers used racial and homophobic slurs, hung a rope around his neck and tossed bleach on him before fleeing. Allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful and if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment states.

"Empire" producers made a decision to remove Smollett's character, Jamal, from the final two episodes of the season. When Watkins warned him to show up on time for each future court hearing or risk jail time, Smollett replied, "Yes, your honor".

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