Jussie Smollett pleads NOT GUILTY to charges in alleged hate crime hoax, lying to police

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an alleged hate crime hoax in which he is accused of lying to police.

CBS News reports that Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian, pleaded not guilty on her client’s behalf to 16 counts of disorderly conduct stemming from the January 29 incident, when Smollett told Chicago police that he had been attacked by two men shouting racial and homophobic slurs who tied a rope around his neck.

Smollett was present in the courtroom and also spoke the words “not guilty” in response to the charges, according to the report.

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In a press conference last month, officials from Chicago Police Department said they believed Smollett had paid two brothers to orchestrate the purported hate crime, and the he falsified a police report about the alleged attack.

Smollett is due back in court on April 17.

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[Feature image: AP Photo/Matt Marton]