Almost a month and a half after Jussie Smollett claimed he was brutally assaulted in the streets of Chicago, theEmpire actor appeared in court today to enter a plea to multiple charges of having given a false account to the police.
The "Empire" actor, 36, will be arraigned before a judge and enter a formal plea.
Smollett maintains his innocence. His attorneys say they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.
A grand jury in Chicago indicted him on 16 felony counts, which his attorneys have called "prosecutorial overkill".
In a video posted to the official Empire YouTube channel on March 13, a new episode is teased, but Smollett is nowhere to be found - sans a split second out-of-focus shot. The counts focus on allegedly false statements made to two different Chicago Police officers.
"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. 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. One had appeared with Smollett on "Empire", police and their lawyer said.
It has already been announced that Smollett's character won't appear in the final two episodes of the season, and TMZ reports it will be explained that he is "out of the country".
In a searing live press conference on that same day, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was "shameful' what Smollett allegedly try to pull off and accused him of perpetuating a "hoax".
"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.