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Entertainment Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to new charges of filing false hate crime reports

20:55  24 february  2020
20:55  24 february  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Margaret Byrne, Jussie Smollett are posing for a picture: Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett arrives at court for his arraignment on renewed felony charges in Chicago on Feb. 24. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters) © Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett arrives at court for his arraignment on renewed felony charges in Chicago on Feb. 24. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

Jussie Smollett on Monday pleaded not guilty in Chicago to six counts of disorderly conduct, including filing false reports of a hate crime.

It is the second set of charges brought against the former “Empire” actor in connection to his filing of a police report in January 2019 in which he claimed to be the subject of a bigoted attack.

Judge James Linn set a $20,000 personal recognizance bond, which means Smollett doesn’t have to pay any of it, according to the Associated Press. The actor, who was not taken into custody, is due back in court on March 18.

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Lawyers representing the actor did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.

Attorney Gloria Schmidt, left, stands with her clients, brothers Olabinjo Osundairo, center, and Abimbola Osundairo, right, as they leave the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, where actor Jussie Smollett made an appearance on a new set of charges alleging that he lied to police about being targeted in a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early last year. The Osundairo brothers claim Smollett hired them to stage an attack on him. (AP Photo/Matt Marton) © Getty Attorney Gloria Schmidt, left, stands with her clients, brothers Olabinjo Osundairo, center, and Abimbola Osundairo, right, as they leave the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, where actor Jussie Smollett made an appearance on a new set of charges alleging that he lied to police about being targeted in a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early last year. The Osundairo brothers claim Smollett hired them to stage an attack on him. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

This marked Smollett’s first court appearance since special prosecutor Dan K. Webb brought new charges against him earlier this month.

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The case began in January 2019, when Smollett, who is black and gay, told police that two people attacked him, poured an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck around 2 a.m. in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, all while yelling homophobic and racial slurs. He also claimed the alleged attackers referred to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

The case drew an enormous amount of attention from the media, celebrities and even the president. Smollett gave a highly publicized interview to ABC’s Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” in which he said he was “forever changed” because he would “never be the man that this did not happen to".

That attention turned to scrutiny and grew exponentially after police began investigating Smollett, suspecting him of staging the incident. In March 2019, a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 counts of lying to police.

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Former © AP Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett arrives at court for his arraignment on renewed felony charges in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. February 24, 2020. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

Later that month, in an astonishing reversal, Cook County prosecutors dropped all charges — citing Smollett’s history of volunteering and the two days of community service he had performed since his arrest, as well as his agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city — which led to political fallout that rocked Chicago and beyond.

Many criticized the controversial decision. Among them were then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), who said it was “without a doubt, a whitewash of justice,” and then-Police Superintendent Eddie Bernice Johnson, who said Smollett and his attorneys “chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system.” (Johnson was fired in December by current mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who cited “a series of ethical lapses.”)

In June, a judge ruled that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx mishandled the case. Webb was brought in as a special prosecutor, who decided to prosecute after “the grand jury’s investigation revealed that Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” according to a statement. 

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