Tag Archive: Blue Cross Plan Offerings


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A federal jury in Boston has found Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor, as well as four former Insys managers, guilty of racketeering conspiracy.  Former vice president Michael Gurry, ex-national sales director Richard Simon, former regional sales director Joseph Rowan, and one-time stripper turned Insys sales manager Sunrise Lee were also found guilty.

They were accused of bribing doctors to prescribe a highly addictive fentanyl spray to patients who didn’t need it. One of the defendants, Sunrise Lee, allegedly gave a lap dance to a doctor at a company event in order to persuade him to prescribe the drug. The charges call for up to 20 years in prison, but as first-time offenders, Kapoor and the others would likely get only a fraction of that.

The trial against former billionaire Kapoor and four other company executives began in January and lasted into April. Insys managers Michael Gurry, Richard Simon, Sunrise Lee were also convicted. The executives were accused of conspiring to bribe clinicians to prescribe the company’s potent fentanyl spray medication off-label.  Former CEO Michael Babich and former vice president of sales Alec Burlakoff, pleaded guilty before this year’s trial began.

Michael Babich testified against his former colleagues during the trial and told jurors that Insys recruited sales representatives who were “easy on the eyes” because they knew physicians didn’t want an “unattractive person to walk in their door.”

Prosecutors allege that to boost sales for Subsys, which is meant for cancer patients with severe pain-bribes were paid in the form of fees for sham speaking events that were billed as educational opportunities for other doctors.  Prosecutors said Insys staffers also misled insurers about patients’ medical conditions and posed as doctors’ office employees in order to get payment approved for the costly drug.

Kapoor is the first chief executive officer of an opioid maker to be convicted at a trial. The verdict signals that the public is willing to hold pharmaceutical executives accountable for the U.S. crisis and comes as thousands of state and local governments press civil lawsuits against drug-makers to recover billions of dollars spent combating the epidemic.

The guilty verdict comes as companies including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson and Endo International Plc are preparing to face trials over allegations by states and local governments that their sales campaigns fueled a crisis which is costing billions of dollars annually and claims more than 100 lives daily in the United States.  The Sackler family, Purdue’s billionaire owners, are facing a new wave of lawsuits over its role in the marketing of OxyContin. They, like the companies, deny wrongdoing.

 

 

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Ethiopia released its’ preliminary findings from its investigation into last month’s fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed all 157 crew and passengers on board. Ethiopia’s transport minister said the pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet followed normal procedures but were unable to overcome a flaw in the plane’s software that automatically pushed the plane’s nose down. The preliminary report found similarities in the technical failures experienced by pilots of October’s Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610, which also crashed just minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board.  The report, which could change in the coming months when it’s completed, doesn’t rule out the potential for pilot error in the Ethiopian crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all 737 MAX aircraft while Boeing works on fixes to the planes’ software.  Boeing said this week that it needed more time to finish a software update and training, which will be necessary before the planes can fly again.  Lawmakers and regulators are scrutinizing Boeing and the process for certifying the 737 Max. The families of passengers and crew killed in the two crashes have hired lawyers to pursue claims against Boeing.  Boeing is working on an additional software fix for another problem which is related to aircraft flaps and other flight control hardware. These issues are reportedly classified as critical to flight safety.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg released a video apology  “We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents. … From the days immediately following the Lion Air accident, we’ve had teams of our top engineers and technical experts working tirelessly, in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and our customers, to finalize and implement a software update that will ensure accidents like that of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 never happen again.”

Boeing dismissed concerns about a powerful new anti-stall system on the 737 Max for months, insisting that pilots could deal with any problems by following a checklist of emergency procedures.  The preliminary findings from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash have raised speculation of the sufficiency of those instructions.   The findings show that the pilots on the Ethiopian Airlines flight initially followed the prescribed procedures he was trained on after the anti-stall system malfunctioned. They shut off the electricity that allows the automated software to push the plane’s nose down and took manual control of the jet. They then tried to right the plane, with the captain telling his co-pilot three times to “pull up.”

Unfortunately, they could not regain control and about four minutes after the system initially activated, the plane hit the ground at high speed, killing all 157 people on board.  The report’s findings are not yet final but the initial evidence suggests that Boeing’s procedures may not have worked well when a plane was flying at a high speed.  The system, according to the investigators’ findings, appears to have forced the nose of the plane down several times in less than three minutes leaving pilots with a very short window to react before going into an irrecoverable nose dive.

 

 

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Authorities have identified a second survivor of the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who has committed suicide this month.  Sixteen-year-old Calvin Desir took his own life on Saturday, just days after 19-year-old Sydney Aiello had killed herself.  Seventeen students, staff and teachers were killed in Parkland on Valentine’s Day last year, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Sydney Aiello had suffered from PTSD and survivor’s guilt after the shooting that that took the life of close friend Meadow Pollack.  It’s unclear if Calvin, who was a sophomore at the school, suffered from survivor’s guilt as Aiello’s family have confirmed.  School district officials, community leaders, law enforcement and concerned parents met on Sunday to discuss how to address the trauma and identify possible warning signs.  A mental health and suicide prevention town hall meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, March 27 at 6 pm, at the Coral Spring City Hall.  A spokesperson for the city hall said “We simply cannot let the events of that day take the lives of any more of our children. As a city, we are committed to shining a light on those who suffer in the darkness. The mental health of our children and all those who have been affected by the MSD tragedy must be made a priority.”

The meeting hosted a panel of experts who answered questions from those wanting to help children cope with trauma.  Experts offered advice on how parents can connect with teenagers who isolate themselves, discussed alternative methods of therapy and whether adults can safely talk with children about suicide.  Jackie Rosen, executive director of the Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention, said parents should feel confident to talk about mental health with their children and begin those conversations “as soon as possible.”  Experts also encouraged promoting mental health for teachers.  “To the teachers in the room, the first thing I’m going to ask you to do is to take care of you, take care of yourself and make sure that you are as strong and as nurturing as you can be for yourself,” said Patrice Rotolo, clinical director for Smith Community Mental Health.  “Take care of your own needs because that’s the best way to meet the needs of your students.”

As news of the Parkland suicides circulated, it was confirmed that the father of a 6-year-old girl who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was found dead by apparent suicide on Monday. Jeremy Richman, a neuroscientist who, after the death of his daughter Avielle, devoted his life to finding solutions to brain abnormalities that lead to violence. He founded the Avielle Foundation to support brain science research, with the ultimate goal of preventing violence and building compassion.

Six year old Avielle Richman, who was the only child of Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, was among the 26 people killed in the Dec. 2012 shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary.   The couple had two more children after Avielle’s death.  Hensel wrote in a statement this week, “To parent our children without my champion shatters my heart and I will love my best friend forever. … Side by side since 1991, Jeremy and I walked a path of deep friendship, marriage, and parenthood.  “He succumbed to the grief that he could not escape,” she wrote.

Tragically, these recent deaths speak to how critical it is to shatter the stigma of mental health issues and for people suffering or affected by it to seek help for themselves, loved ones and anyone who we suspect may be in need.   If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

 

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A San Francisco jury found that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was a “substantial factor” in the cancer of California resident Edwin Hardeman. Hardeman says he sprayed the widely used herbicide on his property for almost three decades and once got the product directly on his skin. He has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The jury will now consider damages owed by Bayer, which owns Monsanto.  The federal case could have implications for thousands of others accusing the company of making them sick.

More than 11,000 people have filed suit against Monsanto Company (now Bayer) alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, alledging that Monsanto covered up the risks. As part of the discovery process, Monsanto has had to turn over millions of pages of its internal records.  More than 760 lawsuits are pending in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and the cases have been combined for handling as multidistrict litigation (MDL) under Judge Vince Chhabria.

The jury came to this verdict despite the judge barring evidence about Monsanto’s efforts to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer, after it classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.  Monsanto spent millions of dollars on various secretive tactics aimed at discrediting IARC.  Documents show the company discussing using third parties who appeared to be independent of Monsanto to publicly criticize IARC and push Monsanto propaganda points.  Internal Monsanto records show the company’s role in ghostwriting an article that appeared on Forbes’ contributors’ platform, and they show that the company was behind a story published by Reuters in 2017 that falsely claimed an IARC scientist withheld information from IARC that would have changed the classification.

The judge also barred evidence about how Monsanto worked to discredit French scientist Gilles-Éric Séralini after publication of his 2012 study findings about rats fed water dosed with Roundup. Internal Monsanto records show a coordinated effort to get the Seralini paper retracted, including an email string between Monsanto employees who apparently were so proud of what they called a “multimedia event that was designed for maximum negative publicity” against Seralini that they designated it as an “achievement” worth recognition.

The judge did allow portions of a 2015 internal Monsanto email to be introduced as evidence.  In the email, company scientist Bill Heydens discusses plans to ghostwrite a series of new scientific papers that will contradict IARC’s classification of glyphosate.   In the email, Heydens remarks on how this plan is similar to the ghostwriting of a scientific paper written and published in 2000 in response to another study that found glyphosate to be unsafe.

Officials with Monsanto owner Bayer AG are feeling the effects of the decision has the company’s share prices dropped even lower. The company’s shares already took a huge hit in August after the jury in the first Roundup cancer trial found that the company’s herbicides caused cancer.  In August 2018, a state jury awarded  former school groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson nearly $300 million in damages after Monsanto’s Roundup was found to be responsible for his cancer, though the amount was later reduced to $78 million.  Of course, Monsanto appealed the verdict and Johnson has cross appealed, seeking to reinstate the jury award.

 

 

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Hollywood actresses and a slew of chief executives are among 50 wealthy people charged in the largest college cheating scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.  Those indicted in the investigation, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” allegedly paid bribes of up to $6.5 million to get their children into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said.

At a news conference, Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts said “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud.  There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy and, I’ll add, there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.” Lelling said “The parents charged in the case are a catalog of wealth and privilege. They include, for example, the CEOs of private and public companies, successful securities and real estate investors, two well-known actresses, a famous fashion designer and the co-chairman of a global law firm.”

The ringleader of the scam is William Singer, owner of a college counseling service called Key Worldwide Foundation and a company called Edge College & Career Network.  Singer allegedly accepted bribes totaling $25 million from parents between 2011 and 2018 “to guarantee their children’s admission to elite schools.”  Singer, of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court on charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice.

Steven Masera, 69, the accountant and financial officer for the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, was also indicted.  Mark Riddell, a private school counselor in Bradenton, Florida, and Masera allegedly worked closely with Singer in the scam, according to the indictment.  According to the indictment, Mikaela Sanford, 32, of Folsom, California, another employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, and David Sidoo, 59, of Vancouver, Canada, were also indicted for allegedly working closely with Singer to facilitate the scam.

Singer would allegedly instruct parents to seek extended time for the children to take entrance exams or obtain medical documentation that their child had a learning disability, according to the indictment. The parents were then told to get the location of the test changed to one of two testing centers, one in Houston and another in West Hollywood, California, where test administrators Niki Williams, 44, of Houston and Igor Dvorskiy, 52, of Sherman Oaks, California, helped carry out the scam, the indictment alleges.  Riddell, 36, allegedly took ACT and SAT tests for students whose parents had paid bribes to Singer.  Singer typically paid Riddell $10,000 for each student’s test.

Singer also allegedly bribed school coaches to give to his clients’ admissions slots reserved for student athletes in sports including crew and soccer. He went as far as to stage fake photos of his student clients engaging in sports they never played, or to digitally place the faces of his clients onto images found online of athletes.

Others charged in the probe include nine coaches at elite schools, two SAT and ACT exam administrators, one exam proctor, a college administrator and 33 parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.  Robert Zangrillo, 52, of Miami, founder and CEO of the private investment firm Dragon Global; Bill McGlashan, 55, of Mill Valley, California, a businessman and international private equity investor; Gordon Caplan, a New York attorney; and Gregory Abbott, 68, founder and chairman of International Dispensing Corp., a New York food and beverage packaging company, and his wife, Marcia Abbott, 59.

Huffman’s husband, actor William H. Macy, was not indicted, but according to the court document he and Huffman were caught on a recorded conversation with a corroborating witness in the case, allegedly discussing a $15,000 payment to ensure their younger daughter scored high on a college entrance exam.  Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 to USC to have their two daughters falsely designated as crew recruits, though neither daughter ever participated in the sport.

 

 

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Police in Boulder, Colorado, have launched an internal affairs investigation after video surfaced showing a police officer drawing a pistol on a black man who was picking up trash outside his own home on March 1st.  The police officer, who called other officers to the scene, is on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.

According to the police department, an officer observed a man sitting in a partially enclosed patio area behind a “private property” sign and asked if the man was allowed to be there.  The man said he lived and worked at the building and produced an identification card but the officer continued to question the man.    The unidentified man is a student at Naropa University in Boulder, and the building is listed as a school residence.

The 16 minute video shows the officer approaching the man, who was using a trash picker and bucket to clean up his yard.  The officer is shown talking with the man and has his hand on his hip, near his gun.  As the video continues, several other officers arrive at the scene as the man is shouting “You’re on my property with a gun in your hand, threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash. I hope that camera is on.”  The man’s roommate, who is filming, is shouting “He’s picking up trash, and you have your hand on your gun? He lives here, go home!”  The officer repeatedly tells the man to drop his weapon and both the man and his roommate respond that he does not have a weapon.

The man is shouting that he lives there, on private property and is picking up trash outside his dorm.  He refuses to sit down and tells police to get off his property before asking if they are going to shoot him, tase him or beat him up for picking up trash outside his own home.  The man holds the trash picker in the air saying “you’re calling this a weapon?” and the officer responds that it can be used as a weapon.  The man argues that it is not ok for them to harass him with their hands on their guns for picking up trash in his front yard and repeatedly tells them to leave.  His roommate who is filming comments that one of the officers is holding a shotgun.

A total of eight officers responded, including a supervisor and it was later confirmed by police that the object the man was holding was used to pick up trash.  Boulder police released a statement saying “Officers ultimately determined that the man had a legal right to be on the property and returned the man’s school identification card,” the release said. “All officers left the area and no further action was taken.”  In a police report, the officer claimed the man was uncooperative and “unwilling to put down a blunt object”—even though the man and his roommate repeatedly identified the object as a trash picker.  The officer who drew his weapon has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

The video has gone viral and sparked outrage throughout the community.  During a city council meeting, Police Chief Greg Testa told the crowd: “All aspects of this incident, specifically the actions of the initial officer, are being investigated… in contrast to what was stated in the video that is on social media, body-worn camera video indicates that only one officer had a handgun out, and it was pointed at the ground.”

 

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The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that makeup products from two popular brands of cosmetics contain the carcinogenic substance asbestos.  FDA tests of three powdered makeup products from Claire’s, and one from the brand Justice, tested positive for asbestos, which can cause cancer.   Both retailers market their products to young girls and teens.

Asbestos is believed to cause mesothelioma, a type of cancer affecting the lining of the chest and abdomen, and is linked to an increased risk of other forms of cancer and lung disease.  The FDA released a safety alert about the products and called for more expansive authority to regulate cosmetics, saying the law about its role has not been updated since it first entered into force in 1938.  Americans spend some $60 billion a year on cosmetics, though the industry is largely unregulated.

“The current law does not require cosmetics to be reviewed and approved by the FDA prior to being sold to American consumers,” it said, adding that total responsibility for the safety of these products now rests with the companies that make them.  “To be clear, there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety,” the FDA said.   Because of the lack of regulation, the agency says that in this case, it did not have the authority to force Claire’s to pull the potentially dangerous products off store shelves.  The F.D.A. called on the industry to be more forthcoming about its safety procedures, especially in relation to how it sources and tests talc. The agency said it had used the most sensitive methods available to test 34 cosmetic products from four talc suppliers in 2010 and found no traces of asbestos.

The FDA said the Justice product, a shimmer powder, had already been recalled from the market in 2017.  Claire’s says that “out of an abundance of caution,” it has removed the three products — eye shadows, compact powder and contour powder — from stores and is also removing any remaining talc based cosmetic products (talc sometimes contains asbestos).  Claire’s disputes the test results, saying they “show significant errors” and claims its “products are safe.”  The retailer says the tests “have mischaracterized fibers in the products as asbestos.”

Independent testers dispute Claire’s claim that these products are safe. Consumer advocacy group, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, released results last March that said its testing showed that the same three Claire’s products contained asbestos.  After the U.S. PIRG report, the Dutch government said they also found asbestos in two of Claire’s products.

Regulators are trying to keep a closer eye on companies after the New York Times and Reuters reported late last year that Johnson & Johnson had known for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in its popular baby powder and other talc-based body powders, but tried to keep negative information from reaching the public. The company received subpoenas for more information last month from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.

 

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The billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, was charged with two counts of soliciting sex during a wide ranging sting operation investigating prostitution and human trafficking at day spas in South Florida.  The charges against Mr. Kraft, 77, in Jupiter, Fla., came after the police used video surveillance to observe activity inside several day spas and massage parlors.  Prosecutors say they have video evidence of Kraft engaging in the criminal acts.  While Mr. Kraft lives in Massachusetts, he has owned property in Palm Beach, Fla., for a number of years.  Kraft is accused of patronizing a spa in Jupiter called Orchids of Asia, a small storefront business in a strip mall on two occasions.

All of the sexual encounters that have resulted in charges were videotaped as part of the prostitution investigation.  Investigators had been conducting surveillance of massage parlors in the area for 6 months and have charged nearly 200 people, though only a fraction have been arrested so far.  The police said that the massage parlors and spas had been used for prostitution and that many of the women involved were considered to be victims.  Many of the women involved in the case came to the U.S. from China on temporary visas, and some reportedly had sex with 1,000 men a year.  The investigation involved several law enforcement agencies and resulted in raids and arrests connected to nearly a dozen businesses in the region.  At least one person was charged with human trafficking while others, including several women, are accused of racketeering and money laundering. More than two dozen customers, men ranging in age from their 30s to at least one in his 80s, have been arrested.

Acting on a tip, the police began their investigation of Orchids of Asia by searching online reviews for the business, several of which used a slang term for a sex act that was available to male customers.  After conducting 24-hour video surveillance in November, the police noticed that only male clients had entered.  A Florida Department of Health investigator inspected the business on behalf of the police and noticed several indications that women were living there, including beds, dressers with personal items and a refrigerator containing food and condiments.

One day in January, the police stopped men leaving the spa and the men told police officers that they had taken part in sex acts during their visits. Using that information, the police obtained a search warrant allowing them to monitor and record conduct inside the spa on video.  At 11:30pm on January 17th, the police entered the Orchids of Asia massage parlor under the pretense of investigating the report of a suspicious package.  They evacuated the parlor and set up surveillance cameras to capture what went on inside.  For five days, starting on Jan. 18, the police monitored the video, and they said they had observed more than 20 men receiving manual or oral stimulation during massage sessions.  Police say they did not observe sexual intercourse in any of the instances.

It is extremely difficult for law enforcement to takedown the rings that operate these types of parlors and even more difficult to prove human trafficking charges because of workers’ reluctance to testify, cultural barriers and an international business structure that makes identifying the masterminds next to impossible.  In the last several years, law enforcement has started to view the women in these situations as victims and have cracked down on arresting johns in an effort to eliminate the demand.  In many cases, they refer these women to social services after a parlor is raided.  Many of the women who are working in these establishments are recruited from rural parts of China with promises of legal employment in the US.  Some are fleeing domestic abuse, have little education or their families are heavily in debt.  Agencies in China charge them thousands in travel fees to the US and they agree to work off the debt, eventually being forced into the sex trade with little to no other options for housing or income once in the US.

 

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The State Department has said it will not intervene in the case of a Saudi man accused of killing a 15-year-old American student in a hit-and-run in Portland, Oregon.  Twenty year old  is believed to have fled the United States back to Saudi Arabia, with the help of Saudi officials, who reportedly helped him obtain a fake passport in order to fly him out of the U.S.  An Oregonian reporter has revealed there are several similar cases of Saudi nationals accused of crimes that are suspected of receiving assistance fleeing the US by Saudi officials.

In October 2018, reporter Shane Dixon Kavanaugh received a tip from federal law enforcement about the case involving Abdulrahman Noorah, the Saudi national accused in the fatal hit and run death of 15-year-old Fallon Smart in Portland, Oregon.  Noorah had lived in Portland since 2014 on a student visa living off an $1,800 monthly stipend paid for by the Saudi government.  In August 2016, he was driving with a suspended license when he struck Fallon Smart as she tried to cross at 43rd Avenue in Portland.  Witnesses told police the driver was speeding and did not attempt to stop.  Noorah was arrested the next day and charged with manslaughter, felony hit and run and reckless driving.

Noorah was considered a high flight risk and likely would have remained in custody had the Saudi government not paid the $100,000 bond set on his $1 million bail.  He was put on house arrest and ordered to wear a GPS monitoring system.  According to Kavanaugh’s report, on June 10th, Noorah received permission from his release supervisor, Deputy Kari Kolberg, to study at the community college’s Southeast 82nd Avenue campus.  That afternoon a GMC Yukon XL arrived outside the host home where he had been living and picked him up.  GPS data from Noorah’s monitor bracelet shows he never went to the campus but instead traveled east along Southeast Division Street until the SUV arrived at Portland Sand & Gravel on 106th Avenue.

It is believed that his GPS monitoring device was removed on this day but his release supervisor didn’t discover he was missing until two days later on June 12th.  Investigators later discovered a bag packed at the home.  After the U.S. launched an international manhunt for Noorah, the Saudi government reached out to the Department of Homeland Security in July and told officials Noorah returned to Saudi Arabia on June 17th, five days after the SUV at picked him up.  Federal law enforcement believes that the Saudi government helped Noorah escape prosecution and return to Saudi Arabia by getting him a fake passport and flying him out of the country on a private plane.

While investigating this case, Kavanaugh uncovered four similar cases in Oregon and more cases in other states, where young Saudi students were accused of serious crimes, from rape to possession of child photography.  Many of them were bailed out by the Saudi government and all of them have since disappeared.  After Kavanaugh’s report started receiving national attention the Saudi government released the following statement “The notion that the Saudi government actively helps citizens evade justice after they have been implicated in legal wrongdoing in the U.S. is not true,” said the statement issued by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. “Contrary to some media reports, Saudi diplomatic missions in the United States do not issue travel documents to citizens engaged in legal proceedings.”

 

 

 

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R & B singer R Kelly was arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault on Feb 22 and his bail was set at $1M.  He posted bond on Feb 25 and plead not guilty to the charges. The charges involve four women, three of whom were under the age of 17 at the time of the alleged crimes.   The events related to his charges spanned from 1998 to 2010. Three of the victims were between the ages of 13 and 16 at the time.  The charges came soon after the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” was broadcast on Lifetime in January 2019.  Over the course of six hour-long episodes, the documentary included testimony from several women who accused the singer of abuse dating back to the 1990s, footage of parents attempting to rescue daughters they haven’t seen in years and rams home the argument that Kelly was enabled by those around him.  Two weeks after the broadcast, Kelly was dropped by his record company and concerts in the US and New Zealand were cancelled.

Allegations of criminal sexual assault and his predatory pursuit of teenage girls have plagued the singer for years and may finally be catching up to him.  The allegations began with his secret marriage to singer Aaliyah.    Kelly began mentoring her when she was 12 and the two secretly married when she was 15 years old without her parent’s knowledge.  A marriage certificate shows that the two married on August 31, 1994.  Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time, was listed as 18 on the certificate; the illegal marriage was annulled in February 1995 by her parents.  It was reported that she cut off all professional and personal ties with Kelly after the marriage was annulled and ceased having contact with him.  Aaliyah died in a plane crash on August 25, 2001.

Between 1998 and 2002, Kelly settled four cases filed against him by women claiming to have been in sexual relationships with him when they were underage.  The star settled the cases out of court, paying an undisclosed sum in return for a non-disclosure agreement.  In 2002, he was charged with 21 counts of making child pornography, involving intercourse, oral sex, urination, and other sexual acts with a girl who was allegedly 14 at the time.  Chicago police accused him of videotaping each of these acts and enticing a minor to participate in them.  The case took 6 years to go to trial and he was eventually tried on 14 counts of child pornography and ultimately acquitted in 2008.  While he was awaiting trial, Kelly was charged with a further 12 counts of making child pornography in Florida, where he was arrested at his holiday home.  Police seized a camera during the arrest, which allegedly showed the star having sex with a different underage girl.  Those new charges were dropped when a judge declared that police lacked sufficient evidence to justify a search.

A July 2017 Buzzfeed report accused R Kelly of having a sex cult after three former employees and the parents of several women said their daughters had all but vanished.  The article alleges that Kelly seduced young women who approached him for help with their music careers, before taking control of their lives – dictating “what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records”.  Kelly again denied the claims but the report prompted two other women to come forward with similar claims against him.  In March 2018, several members of members of R Kelly’s inner circle came forward with claims that Kelly regularly asked them to scout out women “that looked young” at parties, and claimed that it was “common knowledge” that the singer preferred young girls.  A #MuteRKelly campaign started that encouraged record label RCA, concert promoters, ticket sellers and streaming services to sever ties with the singer.  Around the same time, the star’s lawyer, publicist and personal assistant all quit.  Kelly’s charges seem long overdue and many feel the #MeToo movement has allowed the victims, who were dismissed years ago when they first came forward-to finally be heard.