Jussie Smollett maintained his innocence on his way to court Wednesday in Chicago, where he faces renewed charges over his alleged 2019 hate crime incident.
Smollett told Fox News that he is innocent while entering the court, referring to the proceedings he was about to participate in as a “dog and pony show.”
The disgraced former “Empire” actor was charged again with six counts of felony misconduct for allegedly lying to police about a racist, homophobic attack he claims was perpetrated against him. He arrived in court on Wednesday where a judge will hear both sides of the case.
The charges over the January 2019 incident were initially dropped by the Cook Country State’s Attorney’s office only to be renewed after a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment accusing him of lying.
In February that year he was charged with filing a false police report, but the actor says he is innocent.
All charges against him were dropped in March, but a special prosecutor pursued the case.
Smollett was later charged with six counts of lying to police, to which he pleaded not guilty.
Smollett appeared at the closed hearing to decide whether his lawyer should be disqualified from representing him in the ongoing trial, reports AP News.
It wasn’t related to any of the charges against him. Previous hearings in 2020 and 2021 have taken place online during coronavirus restrictions.
He is currently represented by lawyer Nenye Uche. Two men, Abel and Ola Osundairo, are who Chicago police have said Smollett paid to carry out the attack.
Smollett claims he was beaten, had an “unknown chemical substance” poured on him, was called racist and homophobic slurs and had a rope put around his neck in the attack.
The Osundairo brothers, who were set to testify against Smollett, claimed that Uche had spoken with them in 2019 about representing them.
Their attorney, Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez says that the brothers’ phone records from the time can’t be found.