‘My case matters’: R. Kelly accuser opens up about waiting for justice and pain over charges being dropped

CHICAGO — Lanita Carter first told police and prosecutors two decades ago that R. Kelly sexually abused her. No charges were filed. She tried to move on, she said. She raised her children, she found a stable career, but Kelly’s music followed her. “Every wedding I went to, every graduation I went to, every party,” Carter told the Tribune. When her son’s kindergarten class learned to sing Kelly’s smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” she had to help him rehearse. Carter thought justice was finally catching up with Kelly in 2019, when the docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” resurrected interest in the si...

Cook County prosecutors dismiss all charges against R. Kelly

CHICAGO — Cook County prosecutors formally dismissed all charges against imprisoned R&B star R. Kelly on Tuesday, marking a subdued end to indictments that made international headlines when they were announced four years ago. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced the office’s intention to drop the cases at a news conference Monday. While they believe the allegations against Kelly to be credible, she said, the singer is already facing decades in prison on separate federal convictions and her office has chosen to spend its limited resources on other matters. During a brief hearing before Judge Law...

Cook County prosecutors to drop all charges against R. Kelly, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announces

CHICAGO — Cook County prosecutors intend to drop all charges against imprisoned R&B star R. Kelly, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced Monday. The four indictments, all of which allege sexual abuse or assault, will be dismissed Tuesday morning during Kelly’s previously scheduled court date at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Foxx said. Given that Kelly is already facing decades in prison on federal convictions, “our office has decided not to expend our limited resources and court time with the indictments,” Foxx said at a news conference at the Cook County Administration Building, the sam...

The lesson from George Santos? Don’t elect such candidates in the first place

There is convincing evidence that freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos, a Republican, lied about his alma mater, his employment history, his ethnic heritage, his family history, his sporting prowess, his financial skills and the source of his campaign funds. Santos has admitted to “embellishments” (hardly the full story) but has denied breaking any laws. Yet Politico reported Wednesday that Santos’ campaign had filed numerous expenses all with the improbably precise amount of $199.99, just one cent below the threshold that would have triggered a requirement to preserve invoices or receipts. Like s...

3 Chicago-area refineries that dump toxins into Lake Michigan, rivers are among worst polluters in US, study shows

Oil refineries are dumping massive amounts of toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the Great Lakes and the nation’s rivers with little, if any, oversight from government regulators, according to a new analysis that found some of the worst polluters are in the Chicago area. During 2021 alone, 81 refineries in the United States that treat waste on-site released 1.6 billion pounds of chlorides, sulfates and other dissolved solids harmful to fish and other aquatic life, the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project determined in its review of federal data. The refineries also collectively dischar...

Actor Michael Shannon says the ‘Rust’ fiasco is about more than gun safety — ‘this is what comes of making a movie on the cheap’

In October 2021, when “Rust” star and producer Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a pistol containing live ammunition that should not have been on a movie set, a lot of actors nowhere near that incident in New Mexico thought a lot of things. For Michael Shannon, “the main thing was: This is what comes of making a movie on the cheap.” A Chicago stage veteran and two-time Academy Award nominee for supporting performances in “Revolutionary Road” (2008) and “Nocturnal Animals” (2016), Shannon, the co-star of Showtime’s “George & Tammy” and the recent, bu...

Shooting in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood leaves 2 dead, 3 injured

CHICAGO — Two people have died and three are injured after a shooting in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago on Monday afternoon in what police described as a “targeted” home invasion, according to officials. The Chicago Fire Department responded to the 2900 block of East 78th Street at about 1:45 p.m. Two people died at the scene and three others were transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center, according to fire officials. One of the three injured people went to a nearby McDonald’s to seek help. In a Monday afternoon news conference, police Deputy Chief Sean Loughran said pre...

Missing body found in Chicago 2 days after Rockford funeral home van was stolen

CHICAGO — A Rockford funeral home’s van was stolen Saturday with a man’s body inside, according to police. Chicago police found the stolen van Sunday night, Rockford police said in a statement. The body was found Monday in the 8200 block of South Manistee Avenue in Chicago, according to a tweet by Rockford police. The van belonged to Collins & Stone Funeral Home. It was stolen from outside the Rockford business, police said. The funeral home did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning. Chicago police declined to comment on the discovery of the stolen van. Rockford polic...

Blinken says Putin has already lost what he wanted in Ukraine

CHICAGO — Making a brief visit to Chicago on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said while Ukrainians have suffered tremendously, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has inflicted “extraordinary damage” on his own citizens and military and that U.S.-led sanctions will take a dramatic toll on Russia’s economy. “The question that one would really love to ask the Russians if we could speak more directly and clearly to them is, ‘How is what Putin is doing in Ukraine, how has that changed your life for the better? Has it done a single thing that makes you better off?’...

Unidentified congressman in Commonwealth Edison conspiracy documents is US Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, sources say

CHICAGO — Mayoral challenger Jesús “Chuy” Garcia is an unidentified member of Congress referenced in federal court filings detailing an alleged scheme by then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to appoint one of Garcia’s political associates to a lucrative position on Commonwealth Edison’s board of directors, the Chicago Tribune has learned. Garcia is not accused of wrongdoing, and through a spokesman, denies he played any role in the push by Madigan to appoint Juan Ochoa to the utility’s board, which is one of the centerpiece allegations in the ComEd bribery conspiracy case set for trial ...

Dozens of sheriffs say they won’t enforce Illinois’ assault weapons ban. Did they forget their oaths of office?

The horrific mass shooting at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade last year demanded swift, resolute action — and the Illinois General Assembly delivered. The passage of the Protect Illinois Communities Act makes the state safer by banning high-powered firearms, and magazines with more than 10 rounds for long guns and more than 15 rounds for handguns. People who own assault-style rifles before the ban took effect will have to register their weapons (via a serial number) beginning next year, or face a misdemeanor charge for a first offense, and a felony charge for subsequent violations. A law...

Illinois State Rifle Association files federal lawsuit over state’s assault weapons ban

CHICAGO — Illinois’ flagship gun rights organization on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit alleging thenewly signed state law that prohibits high-powered guns and large-capacity ammunition magazines violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Filed on behalf of the Illinois State Rifle Association and nearly a half-dozen other gun rights advocates, the lawsuit was anticipated after Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week signed the ban on so-called assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. It’s also the first known federal lawsuit filed against the ban, which was passed six months...

Little progress in R. Kelly cases as defense requests more information on Cook County charges

CHICAGO — R. Kelly’s Cook County cases continue to move at a snail’s pace, despite a judge’s past urging to make progress now that the singer’s two federal trials have concluded. Kelly’s defense this week filed additional motions saying they could not proceed until prosecutors reveal more specific information about their allegations against Kelly. And prosecutors just turned over “significant” potential evidence to the defense last week, one motion alleges. The disgraced R&B superstar was supposed to attend county court Wednesday for an afternoon hearing, at which attorneys were slated to argu...

Artificial intelligence can’t reproduce the wonders of original human creativity

The biggest story of the year — the story we should all be paying attention to — is the increasing power of artificial intelligence. Computer code can write itself, chatbots can generate academic papers, and, with a few keystrokes, a website can produce an image worthy to be framed on any wall. Everywhere we turn, AI is outputting text and images that mimic (and often surpass) humans’ abilities. There’s so much to be concerned about in these developments, especially in the realms of plagiarism and labor replacement, with artists and writers particularly worried about their job prospects drowni...

Migrants arriving in Chicago sleeping in bus shelters and police stations as community steps in to help

CHICAGO — Chicago is a sanctuary city, a welcoming place for migrants. That’s what Cesar Pino Marcano, 28, heard when he arrived at the southern border of the United States seeking asylum — fleeing hunger and chasing a promised dream of a job that could pay enough to ensure the well-being of his family in Venezuela. But when he arrived on a bus full of other people on the same path as him, it was only the cold wind of a January night that welcomed them at Union Station downtown. The group of more than 20 got off the bus and parted ways, he said, each without direction but searching for a warm ...