Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty To 16 Counts Of Disorderly Conduct

Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has plead not guilty to multiple charges of disorderly conduct.

The judge will then likely ask Smollett to enter a plea.

The actor unexpectedly showed up at a procedural hearing on March 12 for his California-based primary defense lawyer Mark Geragos to enter the necessary paperwork to represent Smollett in the state of IL.

Smollett's next hearing was scheduled for April 17.

According to the Empire star, who is black and openly gay, and who plays a gay character on the television show, his two assailants verbally showered him with racial and anti-gay slurs - before physically assaulting him, pouring a chemical on him and leaving him with a rope wrapped around his neck. Prosecutors said one had supplied Smollett with "designer drugs" in the past.

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Smollett was initially charged with one count of lying to the authorities on February 20.

According to prosecutors, Smollett wrote a $3,500 check to two brothers and gave them $100 to buy the rope, ski masks, gloves and red baseball caps used in the supposed January 29 attack.

Smollett has denied staging the attack and maintains his innocence.

Smollett's attorney Mark Geragos called the charges "prosecutorial overkill" in a statement last week. Soon after the alleged incident was made public, police confirmed that the FBI would be assisting in the investigation and that Smollett had earlier received a threatening letter at the Chicago studio where the Fox drama is filmed. He was in court Tuesday for a hearing to determine whether a judge should allow cameras in court.

Cameras were allowed in the courtroom Thursday, though there was no live feed of the proceedings. Several people could be heard chanting "We are here today to support black people", "We are here today to support LGBTQ people" and "Justice for Jussie" as the actor arrived and walked into the building wearing a dark gray coat and sunglasses. That is not a point that prosecutors seem to have pursued in their case and one that various sources at Fox and others close to Smollett have scoffed at.

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