Over the last few weeks, the Internet has been going wild over the speculations surrounding 36-year-old actor Jussie Smollett. The "Empire" actor was accused by Chicago police of "staging a fake hate crime for personal profit."
On Thursday, March 14, the actor had his arraignment on a 16-count indictment of lying to police. Jussie Smollett opted to plead not guilty to the charges.
According to NBC, Smollett arrived at the Cook County courthouse at around 9 a.m. Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to his case which included over a dozen felony counts.
Originally, the actor was charged with one count of disorderly conduct. Police alleged that the actor had staged a hate crime attack on himself in order to gain personal profit. Last week, the grand jury indicted Smollett for 16 felony counts in connection with the attack.
NBC reported, "Smollett reported the alleged attack to police on January 29, claiming to have been beaten by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him, according to the indictment."
While Smollett has pleaded "not guilty" to the charges, the lawyers for the others involved have claimed that they have evidence that Smollett staged the entire incident.
Smollett's attorney, Mark Geragos, argued that the media attention surrounding the case has "robbed Smollett of the presumption of innocence."
He said, "What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie. This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records."
What do you think about Jussie's decision to plead not guilty? Let us know your thoughts. In other recent news, the beloved pet from "Legally Blonde" just passed away and fans are sharing their sadness over it!