Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to staging hate-crime attack

Is the Jussie Smollett Case Enough to Bring Down

Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty Thursday to multiple disorderly conduct charges.

Smollett's case was assigned to Judge Steven Watkins, who told the actor he must be present and on time for every court date.

After Smollett pleaded not guilty, Cook County Judge Steven Watkins granted him permission to travel to NY and California to consult with his attorneys, if he provides 48 hours notice to the court's pretrial services office.

The Smollett incident has so far unfolded during a scheduled hiatus, and while the show is still the network's second highest rated drama among key demographics, according to CNN, ratings have been flagging.

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

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.

Osundairo brothers claim Jussie paid them
Ola and Abel Osundairo claim they were paid by Jussie Smollett to pull off the alleged attack. Instagram

After Smollett was arrested on February 21, Chicago prosecutors read out in court a lengthy series of text messages between Smollett and brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo that painted a picture of a clearly pre-planned attack.

Smollett said "not guilty" as his lawyer entered the plea.

Actor Jussie Smollett denies lying to police and faking a hate crime attack; Matt Finn reports from Chicago.

After the alleged attack, Smollett received support on social media, including from celebrities and Democratic presidential candidates. The actor's attorney Mark Geragos called the indictment "vindictive" and "prosecutorial overkill".

In court today, the actor has been given a new set of travel restrictions, being allowed to travel freely between NY and Los Angeles to meet with his lawyers.

Cameras were allowed in the courtroom Thursday, though there was no live feed of the proceedings. He is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. 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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