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Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about attack

Empire actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court Building for his hearing on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Chicago. Smollett is accused of lying to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Marton. Empire actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court Building for his hearing on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Chicago. Smollett is accused of lying to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago.

March 14, 2019 11:37 AM

CHICAGO (AP) — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges accusing him of lying to the police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago a few weeks ago.

Lawyer Tina Glandian entered the plea on behalf of the 36-year-old actor during a hearing in Cook County Circuit Court after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to oversee the case, including the trial.

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Watkins granted Smollett’s request to be allowed to meet with lawyers in New York and California, but said the actor must give the court at least 48 hours’ prior notice. He scheduled the next hearing for April 17.

Smollett is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

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 Jan. 29. They say Smollett was unhappy about his salary and wanted to drum up publicity to help his career.

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AP

(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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