“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago courtroom Thursday on 16 charges stemming from an alleged hate crime hoax.
Smollett’s lawyer Tina Glandian, entered the plea on Smollett’s behalf just hours after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned the high-profile case. The next court date was scheduled for April 17.
Smollett was initially charged with one count of lying to the authorities on Feb. 20. Last week, a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of lying to authorities – eight counts from what he told the officer who responded to the report of the attack and eight from what he later told a detective about being the victim of a brutal racist and homophobic beating by two masked men in downtown Chicago back in January.