Actor Empire Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty Thursday allegedly to file a false police report and staging a hate crime.
Smollett told the Chicago police that in the early morning hours of January 29 he was attacked by two men who shouted anti-gay insults, threw him a bleach-like chemical, put a rope around his neck and referred to President Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again".
In a February interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America Smollett, who is black and openly gay, kept his innocence, saying he was "pissed off" that people doubted he was been attacked.
"At the beginning it was such a thing, listen, if I tell the truth then it is so, because it is the truth," said Smollett of his skeptics. "Then it became something like that, oh, how can you doubt it? How, how can you not believe it? It's the truth."
At the beginning of this month, a grand jury in Cook County, Illinois, Smollett on 1
"Jussie Smollett knew that … there was no reasonable reason to believe such crimes had been committed," the grand jurist said last week when he indicted Smollett.
When Smollett's alleged attack was initially reported, the case made national headlines and the police continued to investigate, it was not clear how much evidence of the attack actually existed.
"The accusations against Mr. Smollett are shameful and if you try, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor and respected him as a model," said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi .
Mark Geragos, a lawyer for Smollett, said in a statement last week that the allegations are "nothing but a desperate attempt to make headlines" to distract from the internal investigation to investigate losses to the press and the invasion of privacy charges.
Geragos also defined the number of excessive charges and declared the charge "redundant and vindictive".
Meanwhile, the future of the role of Smollett on the Fox Empire remains uncertain. The network has said that his character Jamal will be cut from the last two episodes of the season, but will be included in the episodes filmed so far. Representatives for When they reached Thursday, Fox made no comments
A Smollett representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday
Smollett's next court date was scheduled for April 17th.