Is the Jussie Smollett Case Enough to Bring Down "Empire?"

Sergio Cunningham
March 15, 2019

The plea of not guilty to charges of filing a phony police report came after Judge Steven Watkins was randomly assigned to preside over the high-profile case.

"We look forward to complete transparency and the truth coming out", Glandian said. While there has been a lot of speculation regarding the actor's future on the show - as Empire's own future is now shrouded in mystery and facing rumors of cancellation - several episodes of the second half of Season 5 were already in the can before Smollett's legal drama unfolded.

Smollett was arrested on February 21 after being charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was the victim of a hate crime.

What's insane, though, is that Jussie's on-screen character, Jamal, was dealing with issues with the media in last night's episode. Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed his alleged attackers used racial and homophobic slurs, hung a rope around his neck and tossed bleach on him before fleeing.

Prosecutors allege that Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit TV show, hired two friends to help him stage the attack on him in downtown Chicago early on the morning of January 29.

Smollett's arraignment hearing followed the midseason premiere of "Empire", which resumed Wednesday. The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment states.

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"The fact of an indictment was not unexpected", the statement read.

Smollett is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

This week, Smollett's attorney Mark Geragos went in-in on the Chicago Police Department over the headline-generating charges.

Smollett has maintained his innocence and his attorney Tina Glandian earlier this week said the case against him is mired in "misinformation".

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked".

Smollett has denied any involvement in orchestrating an attack.

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