National | News

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to second round of charges over false reports of attack

(JTA) — The former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty to a second round of charges for lying to police about being the target of a racist and homophobic attack.

Smollett was indicted by a special prosecutor on restored charges two weeks ago. He is charged with six felony counts of disorderly conduct over four false reports that he gave to police in which he said he was the victim of a hate crime when no such hate crime took place.

He appeared in a Cook County, Illinois, courthouse on Monday to enter his plea. His attorney also has asked the state Supreme Court to stop the case.

Smollett was released on a $20,000 personal recognizance bond and is scheduled to appear in court on March 18, The Associated Press reported.

Cook County prosecutors had dropped charges against Smollett, 37, in March 2019, the case was sealed and the actor’s record expunged. The Chicago Prosecutor’s Office said then that Smollett had performed community service and forfeited his $100,000 bond.

Police concluded that Smollett, who is Jewish, black and gay, had staged the early-morning downtown Chicago attack in January 2019 on himself and had paid two Nigerian brothers, one who appears on “Empire,” to carry it out.

Smollett told police after the attack that two men “gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him” before attacking, pouring an “unknown chemical substance” on him and wrapping a rope around his neck.

Smollett’s openly gay character Jamal Lyon was written out of the final two episodes of the fifth season of “Empire” and did not return for the show’s sixth and final season.