March 7 (UPI) — The Illinois Supreme Court has rejected actor Jussie Smollett’s request to dismiss a case in which he’s accused of falsely reporting that he was a victim of a racist and homophobic attack near his Chicago home.
The court on Friday also refused to remove a special prosecutor who filed the charges.
Smollett, 37, pleaded not guilty last month to a six-count grand jury indictment in the case. After entering the not guilty pleas, Judge James Linn set bond at $20,000 and released the “Empire” actor on his own recognizance, ordering him to return to court March 18.
Smollett — who is black and openly gay — was indicted in February by a special grand jury that accused him of filing false police reports in connection with a January 2019 incident in which he said he was attacked by two white men who looped a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him after taunting him with racial and homophobic remarks.
In a case that divided the nation along lines of race and sexual orientation, police ultimately said the incident was a hoax and that Smollett staged the assault to bolster his career, and charged him with 16 counts of disorderly conduct. Those charges were dropped a month later in a controversial move by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
A Chicago judge subsequently accepted a petition to reopen the case and appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb to lead a new inquiry. Following a six-month investigation, Webb announced the new charges.
Smollett has maintained his innocence and said police have overlooked witnesses who corroborate his story.