'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty

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Almost a month and a half after Jussie Smollett claimed he was brutally assaulted in the streets of Chicago, theEmpire actor appeared in court today to enter a plea to multiple charges of having given a false account to the police. Police initially investigated the case as a possible hate crime. Smollett has always maintained his innocence.

Police said the two brothers wore gloves during the staged attack, and did punch Smollett, but the scratches and bruises on Smollett's face most likely were self-inflicted.

Later developments cast doubt on Smollett's account, including the questioning of two suspects - a pair of Nigerian brothers, one of whom worked as a personal trainer on a music video of Smollett's - who were later released without being charged.

"Yes, sir", Smollett said in a soft voice as the judge instructed him that he would next return to court on April 12.

In January, Smollett filed a police report after alleging being assaulted by two men who he claimed attacked him for being a gay black man.

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Smollett's legal team does not yet appear to have issued new comments following the arraignment, but in a previous statement they reaffirmed his claims of innocence and chided the legal system for what they perceive as a target attack.

"Jussie has been a person of high caliber and character". The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective.

- Police release the two men without charges after arresting them on suspicion of assaulting Smollett and holding them for almost 48 hours. Police and prosecutors have said that attack was a hoax, but Smollett's attorneys said they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.

- Chicago's top prosecutor, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, recuses herself from the investigation.

Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty Thursday to multiple disorderly conduct charges. Her office says the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution.to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case". "What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts".