R. Kelly arrested on federal sex charges

Embattled R&B singer R. Kelly was arrested in Chicago on Thursday night on federal sex-crime charges, just months after he was charged at the state level with abuse and aggravated sexual assault.

The 13-count indictment, brought by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois, includes charges of child pornography, enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and obstruction of justice, said Joseph D. Fitzpatrick, an assistant U.S. attorney for the district.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn unsealed a separate five-count indictment against Kelly on Friday, accusing him of, among other things, leading a racketeering enterprise for two decades — dating from 1999 and continuing as recently as February 2018.

According to a letter filed with the court Friday by Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Kelly participated during that time in “the sexual exploitation of children, coercing and transporting women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity, kidnapping and forced labor.”

For years, Kelly’s staff — managers, bodyguards, drivers and personal assistants — recruited women and underage girls as sexual partners for him, according to the indictment. Often, prosecutors say, the sexual activity was filmed and photographed.

If convicted on all counts, Kelly faces decades in prison.

Kelly appeared in federal court Friday in Chicago for a brief hearing on the New York indictment, the Associated Press reported. Kelly has been held at the high-rise Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago, where he will remain at least until a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, according to the AP.

— Antonia Noori Farzan and Deanna Paul

E-cig makers have till May to file with FDA

E-cigarette companies such as Juul Labs must submit applications to U.S. regulators by May 2020 to keep their vaping products on the market, a federal judge ruled Friday.

The ruling was the result of a court case brought by anti-tobacco and public-health groups after the Food and Drug Administration had delayed an earlier application deadline. The groups argued that the agency had abdicated its duty to regulate the products, which have been blamed for a rise in the use of vaping products by youths.

The FDA began overseeing e-cigarettes in 2016 under the Obama administration. After President Trump took office in 2017, the agency pushed back until August 2022 the application deadline for a safety and public-health review.

“Given the uncertainty in the efficacy of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation devices, the overstated effects that a shorter deadline may have on manufacturers, the industry’s recalcitrance, the continued availability of e-cigarettes and their acknowledged appeal to youth, and the clear public health emergency, I find that a deadline is necessary,” U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm in Maryland wrote in his order.

The anti-tobacco groups had sought a four-month deadline, while the FDA told the judge 10 months was the earliest it would recommend requiring applications to be submitted. The new timing is still “a dramatic improvement,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which is one of the plaintiffs.

“Today’s ruling is an important step forward for public health,” the FDA’s acting commissioner, Norman “Ned” Sharpless, said in an emailed statement.

A company’s e-cigarettes will be able to stay on the market for up to one year while the FDA considers its application, according to the order.

— Bloomberg News