Jussie Smollett appears in court

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After Smollett pleaded not guilty, Cook County Judge Steven Watkins granted him permission to travel to NY and California to consult with his attorneys, if he provides 48 hours notice to the court's pretrial services office.

It has already been announced that Smollett's character won't appear in the final two episodes of the season, and TMZ reports it will be explained that he is "out of the country".

The 36-year-old "Empire" actor was indicted last week for allegedly lying to Chicago police about a hate-crime attack and had been charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.

What's insane, though, is that Jussie's on-screen character, Jamal, was dealing with issues with the media in last night's episode.

Police and prosecutors have said that Smollett hired two brothers to stage the attack.

A Cook County grand jury indictment, made public on Friday, charged Smollett with disorderly conduct for each crime he said he had suffered, with separate counts related to statements he made the night of January 29 to a police officer, and then for repeating the same account to a detective the same night.

The Empire star was back in court on Thursday for his arraignment, where he revealed his stance. The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective.

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"The fact of an indictment was not unexpected".

Jussie Smollett continues to maintain his innocence.

"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines", Geragos said.

"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".

Later developments cast doubt on Smollett's account, including the questioning of two suspects - a pair of Nigerian brothers, one of whom worked as a personal trainer on a music video of Smollett's - who were later released without being charged.

Several celebrities and advocacy organizations had rallied behind Smollett, expressing sympathy for him after he told "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts in mid-February that he would "never be the man that this did not happen to".

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