Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019

This year saw the deaths of people who shifted culture through prose, pragmatism and persistence. It also witnessed tragedy, in talent struck down in its prime. In 2019, the political world lost a giant in U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. He was born the son of a sharecropper, became a lawyer, then an influential congressman and […]

Three STDs reach all-time highs in the US, new CDC report says

Health officials are raising alarm about a rise in STDs across the United States. For the fifth consecutive year, combined cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have risen in the United States, according to a Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published on Tuesday. “Combined they total 2.4 million […]

Three STDs reach all-time highs in the US, new CDC report says

Health officials are raising alarm about a rise in STDs across the United States. For the fifth consecutive year, combined cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have risen in the United States, according to a Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published on Tuesday. “Combined they total […]

Tony Awards 2018: Full list of winners

The Tony Awards celebrated the best of Broadway on Sunday night. Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, who co-hosted the awards show, kicked things off with a piano duet in which they poked fun at the fact that neither of them have won Tony or Grammy Awards. “Neither one of us has ever won anything. So […]

Police: Family plots to teach boy a lesson with frightening fake kidnapping

Members of a Missouri family have been charged after the planned and executed the kidnapping of a 6-year-old boy to “teach him a lesson.” KTVI in St Louis reports 38-year-old Denise Kroutil approached a co-worker, 23-year-old Nathan Firoved, and asked him to kidnap her nephew to “scare” him. The victim’s mother, 25-year-old Elizabeth Hupp, and […]

Chicago officer fired after asking teen for sex in return for impounded car

CHICAGO — A Chicago police officer who allegedly asked a 17-year-old girl for sex in return for getting her mother’s impounded car released by the city has been fired. The Chicago Tribune reports that the city’s police board agreed with Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s recommendation to fire Officer Darius Alexander in a 9-0 vote after hearing conversations […]

Convicted sex trafficker Joseph Hazley sentenced 32 years in prison

CHICAGO —Joseph Hazley, the man convicted of sex trafficking 16-year-old Desiree Robinson, was sentenced to 32 years in prison Tuesday. Robinson was found murdered in a garage in south suburban Markham on Christmas Eve in 2016. Federal prosecutors originally sought a 40-year sentence for 35-year-old Hazley. They said Hazley sold her to Antonio Rosales, who […]

Pampers announces line of ‘smart’ diapers

It’s come to this: There’s about to be an app for your baby’s diaper. Pampers this week announced a line of smart diapers that it says will track a child’s urine — but not bowel movements — as well as sleep. Last year, rival Huggies debuted a similar concept in Korea, allowing parents to receive text alerts […]

Pope Francis gets a snazzy new Lamborghini — and auctions it off

The two struck a striking figure: the Pope in his white cassock and his snazzy new ride with its white gleam. A photo was taken Wednesday at the Vatican as Pope Francis was gifted with a special edition Lamborghini Huracan. It shows the Pope signing the hood of the car, which is sure to considerably […]

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

DETROIT — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think,” ”I Say a Little Prayer” and her signature song, “Respect,” and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer. Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through […]

Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

NEW YORK — Philip Roth, the prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of “Portnoy’s Complaint” to the elegiac lyricism of “American Pastoral,” died Tuesday night at age 85. Roth’s literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said the author died in a New York City hospital of congestive heart […]

Posting a pic of your kid? Think twice about using these hashtags

CHICAGO – Parents may be unintentionally exposing their children’s photos to child predators based on their privacy settings and what hashtags they use. Carly Yoost with the non-profit Child Rescue Coalition said that by the age of two, 90 percent of children already have a social media presence, thanks to their proud parents. Yoost said […]

Actress Allison Mack arrested for sex trafficking

NEW YORK — A television actress best known for playing a young Superman’s close friend pleaded not guilty Friday to sex trafficking after federal prosecutors said she worked as a slave “master” recruiting unsuspecting women to a cult-like group led by a man who sold himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars. Allison Mack […]

Rapper Young Thug says he’s changing his name

Rapper Young Thug said he is changing his name, according to his Twitter page. “For now on call me SEX!!!” the rapper posted on Twitter. The rapper did not explain why he chose SEX as his new name. But, according to, this is not the first time the artist has gone through a name […]

Woman sold for sex at 13 shares her story of survival

Thriving after unimaginable trauma. First, a young child was sexually assaulted. They escaped that torture only to find the very person who said they would help, wanted to sell them. The damage is deep, and the healing isn’t immediate when a victim escapes their sex trafficker. Angela Valenti, a sex trafficking survivor, said her sexual […]

Chicago teen was sold into sex trafficking — and escaped

CHICAGO — The victims of sex trafficking are from every race, religion, neighborhood and zip code. On Wednesday, we begin a multi-part series with the voice of one brave survivor from Chicago. “My mom kicked me out when I was 17,” she said. “I’ve been living on the streets since then.” Because the people who […]

From the streets to social media, how law enforcement is targeting sex traffickers

Nearly 100 people from Illinois have called the National Human Trafficking Hotline looking for help. Nationally, 3,700 have reached out. They all said they were being sex trafficked. As counselors try to give them aid, law enforcement works tirelessly to track down offenders. Local law enforcement is attempting to help survivors thrive and targeting abusers […]

Fisherman’s $500K catch could get him life in prison

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – When commercial fisherman Thomas Breeding found 45 pounds of cocaine floating in the Gulf of Mexico last January, he says he knew the right thing was to turn it over to police. The Florida man instead opted to sell it, a decision that could land him in prison for life. Breeding—a […]

Ibuprofen linked to male infertility, study says

Ibuprofen has a negative impact on the testicles of young men, a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found. When taking ibuprofen in doses commonly used by athletes, a small sample of young men developed a hormonal condition that typically begins, if at all, during middle age. This condition is […]

Country star Mindy McCready apparently kills dog, self

They seemed so triumphant at the time, the lyrics to country music star Mindy McCready’s hope-filled title track to her most recent album, “I’m Still Here.” “On a cold dark cloud, with nowhere to fall but down, like a single, naked, unrelenting tear … I’m still here.” Now, those words sound like a cry for […]

A look back at nearly 2 decades of R. Kelly allegations

CHICAGO — R&B singer R. Kelly has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims, including at least three between the ages of 13 and 17. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx alleges the incidents happened between 1998 and 2010. Kelly is no stranger to these types of accusations or […]

Desire Robinson’s mother on hand as Trump signs anti-sex trafficking law

WASHINGTON  — President Donald Trump has signed a new law aimed at curbing sex trafficking. During a White House signing ceremony Wednesday, the president said the survivors “are very brave.” Yvonne Ambrose, a mother from the Chicago area, stood by Trump as he signed the law. “I don’t want to cry in front of you, […]

Rabbi with prior sex crime conviction arrested in underage sex trafficking bust

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A rabbi with a prior conviction for sexually abusing a minor was one of three arrested for allegedly sex trafficking an underage prostitute, according to WPIX. Rabbi Aryeh Goodman, 35, was arrested along with 18-year-old Gabriella Colon and 23-year-old Richard Ortiz by investigators from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, East Brunswick […]

Woman accuses R. Kelly of sexual battery, giving her herpes

NEW YORK — A woman has filed a lawsuit against R. Kelly, accusing the singer of sexual battery, knowingly infecting her with herpes and locking her in rooms for punishment. Faith Rodgers says in the suit filed Monday in New York that she met Kelly about a year ago after a concert in San Antonio, […]

Harvey Weinstein charged with three additional counts of sex assault

Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein was charged with three additional sexual assault charges on Monday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement. He now faces charges in connection with alleged incidents involving three women. Weinstein, 66, was charged by a grand jury with one count of commiting a criminal sexual act […]

Supreme Court won’t hear case of anti-gay marriage florist

SEATTLE — The U.S. Supreme Court ordered Washington state courts Monday to take a new look at the case of a florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding, in light of the justices’ recent ruling in a similar case involving a Colorado baker. The order means the Supreme Court is again, for […]

‘I was trafficked by my mom’: Opioid addiction, sex trade collide in one survivor’s story

Two separate health crises are colliding. For months, WGN has covered the opioid epidemic sweeping the country. WGN has also detailed stories of sex trafficking in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Now there is a revelation: the opioid epidemic is injecting life into the sex trafficking trade and destroying the lives of its victims. One […]

Joan Rivers dies at age 81

Joan Rivers started her career as a stand-up comedian quick to poke fun at herself — at her body, her family responsibilities and being a misfit within an unaccommodating world. By the time she died Thursday at 81, Rivers had become a worldwide celebrity. But she was still a misfit, biting the well-groomed hands that […]

28 years after he first struck, China’s ‘Jack the Ripper’ found

The case of Jack the Ripper may have been solved—the Chinese version, that is. A serial killer who first struck in 1988 and is believed to have raped and killed 11 women and mutilated a number of them has been apprehended and confessed, state-run media report by way of the AFP. Gao Chengyong, 52, was […]

British model’s lawyer insists she was not an ‘accomplice’ in her kidnapping

LONDON — The lawyer of British model Chloe Ayling, who was allegedly kidnapped and detained for six days in Italy while her captors attempted to sell her in an online auction, has refuted suggestions that his client acted as an “accomplice.” Ayling says she was attacked in Milan in July while attending a photo shoot. […]

Hugh Hefner, legendary founder of ‘Playboy’ magazine, dead at 91

CHICAGO — Hugh Hefner — the silk-robed Casanova whose Playboy men’s magazine popularized the term “centerfold,” glamorized an urbane bachelor lifestyle and helped spur the sexual revolution of the 1960s — has died, his company said late Wednesday. He was 91. Hefner founded Playboy in 1953 with $600 of his own money and built the magazine […]

Man convicted of sex trafficking slain teen marketed online

CHICAGO —A man accused of sex-trafficking a teenager who was killed by a customer was convicted of the charges by a federal jury. Joseph Hazley was found guilty Wednesday of sex-trafficking Desiree Robinson and two other victims. The 16-year-old Robinson was allegedly killed in December 2016 by a man who answered an online sex advertisement. […]

That grated parmesan on your pasta may contain 9 percent wood

If you love cheese, this news is not “grate.” “Your Parmesan cheese products do not contain any parmesan cheese” is not a letter you want to get from the Food and Drug Administration if you’re a company that manufactures parmesan cheese products. But that’s exactly what a 2013 letter from the FDA to Pennsylvania’s Castle Cheese […]

Gawker files for bankruptcy and puts itself up for auction

NEW YORK — Gawker Media has filed for bankruptcy, and the bidding for its assets begins now. On Friday, the embattled media company said it had agreed to sell all seven of its brands and other assets to the tech publisher Ziff Davis. The Ziff Davis bid — worth $90 million to $100 million, according […]