Wearing a navy suit and dress coat, Smollett, 36, appeared serious and quiet standing next to his attorneys as Cook County Circuit Court Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to his case. Smollett, who is free on bond, maintains his innocence. Far from the racist and homophobic assault Smollett first describes in late January, the texts detailed preparing money to buy supplies, buying drugs, setting up meetings and ensuring that MAGA hats and chants were part of the assault.
The actor appeared in court earlier this week when prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to allow cameras during Thursday's hearing. "We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that members of the media can see the actual evidence - and what we feel is actually going to be a lack of evidence - against Mr. Smollett". Police say Smollett told detectives that two masked men beat him while hurling racist and homophobic slurs, and that they poured an unknown substance on him and hung a noose around his neck before fleeing.
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A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false report. Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says. The men were released without being charged.
Smollett is now facing 16 felony counts. Otherwise, Smollett can not leave IL without the court's permission while he is free on bail, and Watkins admonished the actor to be present an on-time for all of his upcoming court dates.
Smollett has been suspended from the show and was written out of the final two episodes of this season. When Watkins warned him to show up on time for each future court hearing or risk jail time, Smollett replied, "Yes, your honor". "(4) Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed".