Update (March 14, 2019): Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct.
NPR reports the actor offered a Chicago courtroom no comments or testimony Thursday; his legal team entered his plea for him. Ahead of his court appearance, the judge eased Smollett's travel restrictions, according to Deadline. The artist is now allowed to travel to Los Angeles and New York only to confer with his legal advisers.
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The team told reporters Smollett welcomes the trial, and he believes the legal system will exonerate him.
"There has been a lot of misinformation in this case that's been presented as fact and evidence against Mr. Smollett that is demonstrably false," Tina Glandian, Smollett's lawyer, said. "We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that members of the media can see the actual evidence — and what we feel is actually going to be a lack of evidence — against Mr. Smollett. And we look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out."
Smollett faces allegations of filing a false police report about an incident he claims was a racist, homophobic attack on him. Each of the 16 counts he faces related to that accusation carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
He will return to court on April 17.
Original: Jussie Smollett has been indicted on 16 counts of felony charges by a grand jury in Chicago less than two months after reporting he was the victim of an alleged hate crime.
NBC News reports Cook County's State Attorney office confirmed a grand jury returned the indictment on Thursday.
The Empire actor has been charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct after reportedly filing a false police report on January 29, per ABC Chicago.
As Blavity previously reported, the 36-year-old initially claimed he was brutally attacked and berated by two white MAGA supporting assailants during a late night Subway run in Chicago. Citing both racism and homophobia as the motivation, Smollet also claimed they doused his skin with bleach and placed a noose around his neck.
In the following months, Smollett has been accused of falsifying his report and working with Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo to fabricate the story.
On February 21, Smollett turned himself in after being charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct, a class four felony.
Smollett has previously denied all accusations of foul play.
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