Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to new charges in relation to allegations he staged a racist and homophobic attack on himself last year.
The Empire star was originally accused of orchestrating the attack back in January 2019, and while original charges against him – which included 16 felony counts of lying to police – were eventually dropped, he is now facing fresh charges over a year after the alleged attack.
And on Monday, he appeared in court in Chicago to enter his plea, where he insisted he was not guilty of the charges against him, which are for six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making four separate false reports about the attack.
After pleading not guilty before Cook County Judge James B. Linn, the actor was released on a US$20,000 bond but will appear in court again at a later date.
The judge asked him: “You need to come back to court and you’re required to do so. Do you understand?”
Jussie nodded but did not speak throughout the 40-minute closed-door conference.
The fresh charges come after special prosecutor Dan Webb – who has been appointed in this case to examine the state’s attorney’s office’s handling of the case – decided to bring charges against Jussie after looking at the “extensive nature” of his alleged falsehoods, as well as the amount of time and money the Chicago Police Department put into the investigation.
Jussie forfeited his $10,000 in bond money in exchange for the first case’s dismissal, which Webb noted is less than 10 per cent of the approximately $130,000 the police spent on overtime in the case.
Meanwhile, after charges against him were dropped, local officials in Chicago sued Jussie for around $500,000 to cover various costs, including to compensate for the overtime pay for police who investigated his case. And in response, he filed his own lawsuit seeking to sue the City of Chicago “for their conduct underlying the arrest and their conduct thereafter”.