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Kate Wells

Host/Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering general news for Michigan Radio. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on WNYC, Harvest Public Media, KUT (Austin Public Radio) and in the Texas Tribune.

Kate got her start as an intern with New Hampshire Public Radio before heading out to the Midwest, where she covered the presidential caucuses for Iowa Public Radio and won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism. She joined Michigan Radio in 2012. Kate enjoys hiking, the Muppets, and cake in all forms.   

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio NPR

“Spartans deserve better.”

That was the message at a rally at Michigan State University Friday night. About 100 students, community members and sexual assault survivors came out to call for the resignations of the entire Board of Trustees and Interim President John Engler.

The "Sparty" statue on the MSU campus
Betsy Weber / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A group of Larry Nassar survivors are organizing a rally tonight at Michigan State University to call for the resignations of interim president John Engler and the entire board of trustees.

The rally comes after accusations and apologies about a meeting between Engler and one of Nassar’s victims. 

YouTube

Scott Westerman announced today he’s resigning as Michigan State University’s associate vice president for alumni relations and executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. While Westerman cited a desire to be near his grandchildren in Florida on his personal blog Tuesday, he’s also involved in an ongoing Title IX investigation, the university confirmed.  

Kaylee Lorincz at MSU Board of Trustees Meeting Friday
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio NPR

Updated April 13th at 5:40 pm

Kaylee Lorincz, a survivor of former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse, accused Michigan State University Interim President John Engler of privately offering her a $250,000 check to drop her civil lawsuit against the school.

Lorincz says she told Engler it “wasn’t about the money.”

“Well give me a number then,” Engler replied, according to Lorincz’s allegations.

Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

Update, Friday, April 13:

Michigan State University Interim President John Engler told the Board of Trustees Friday he "regrets" Wednesday's response to an alleged rape victim's federal lawsuit. The student claims she was discouraged by school counselors from reporting her assault in 2015.

Engler told the board the initial response "provided an unnecessary amount of detail," which was "perceived by some as violating privacy expectations." While MSU's statement on Wednesday described the woman's allegations as "untrue," Engler now says "we take these allegations very serious and are working towards improvements."

Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

Three former Michigan State University football players pleaded guilty today in a sexual assault case.

Josh King, Demetric Vance, and Donnie Corley all took deals with the prosecutor’s office to lesser charges. They were charged last June and accused of assaulting a female student at a party in a campus apartment on January 16 of last year.

Larry Nassar
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Before the FBI arrested Larry Nassar for child pornography possession in December 2016, he was googling “Is it illegal to not use gloves with intravaginal manipulations,” “intravaginal manipulations for back pain,”  “vaginal massage,” and “Pubic Hair Removal Demonstration (18+) YouTube,” as police discovered after pulling 57,000 pages of search history from Nassar’s cell phone and laptop.

Mugshot of Dr. William Strampel
Michigan Attorney General's office

The fallout from the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University continues. Nassar’s boss and former Dean of MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel, was arrested late Monday and arraigned Tuesday on felony and misdemeanor charges.

Michigan State University sign
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Dr. William Strampel, Larry Nassar's boss and former Michigan State University medical school dean, was arrested and booked into the Ingham County Jail Monday night.

Rachael Denhollander and her husband
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Update, Sept. 10, 2018:

Michigan State University has frozen the Healing Assistance Fund while a fraudulent claim is investigated. 

The university says it will reopen the fund when the investigation is complete, but when that will happen is unknown.

Igor Ovsyannykov/Unsplash.com

A Metro Detroit bar has canceled a party booked by an alt-right group, whose members were reportedly planning an event around white supremacist Richard Spencer's speech tonight at Michigan State University.

Megan St. Pierre is a manager at Tipsy McStaggers, an Irish bar in Warren.

She says a couple weeks ago, they got a reservation request from the group, Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas.

Rachael Denhollander and her husband
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

When Rachael Denhollander told her story to the Indianapolis Star in September 2016, none of us knew this would eventually become one of the largest cases of child sexual abuse in recent memory. Denhollander’s accusations against Michigan State University and former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar eventually encompassed more than 250 reported victims, led to crises at both MSU and gymnastics national governing body, and gained international attention.

Lorie Shaull

The Oakland County sheriff's office says it's responded to five possible school shooting threats in the span of just five days.

Sheriff Mike Bouchard says it's not unusual to get more "copycat" threats after a school shooting like the recent one in Florida.

"It's sad,” he says. “It's incredibly sad to think that other people want to either emulate it, or get attention from it, or think it's ok."

Courtesy of Deb McCaul

Here’s a sample of the kind of comments parents of Larry Nassar’s victims see online these days. Or, for that matter, just overhear at work and the grocery store:

“Why don’t the parents of the Nassar victims take any responsibility?”

“I wonder how many of those girls complained to their parents, and their parents turned a deaf ear about it.”

“The parents are equally to blame. Should be sharing a cell with Nassar.”

Deb McCaul says on some level, she gets it.

Michigan State University sign
Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Michigan State University faculty decided to take a vote of “no confidence” in the school’s Trustees, as a response to the Board’s selection of former Governor John Engler as MSU’s interim president.

Larry Nassar
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Larry Nassar is back in a Michigan courtroom this week, as he faces another lengthy sentencing hearing.

Larry Nassar listens to Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina hand down his sentence of 175 years in prison.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Larry Nassar's final criminal sentencing starts Wednesday. The former Michigan State University and Olympic sports doctor has already received what amounts to two life sentences. He was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for possessing tens of thousands of images of child pornography and another 40-175 years in state prison for sexually abusing young athletes. Nassar is 54 years old.

Michigan State University Police opened an investigation last year into allegations that then-women’s gymnastics coach, Kathie Klages, and other MSU Athletic Department staff obstructed the criminal investigation into Larry Nassar.

Larry Nassar
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The same day that Michigan State University’s Title IX office cleared Larry Nassar of sexual abuse in July of 2014, a confidential version of the school’s report was sent to both Nassar and his boss, Dr. William Strampel, who has since stepped down as Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. William Strampel
Michigan State University

Less than 24 hours after Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon stepped down over the school’s handling of Larry Nassar, two trustees are divided over whether Nassar’s former boss, Dr. William Strampel, should be the next to go.

Nassar in court.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Dr. Larry Nassar, a former athletic doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison today.  He pled guilty to seven counts of sexual assault in Ingham County court last November.

Last summer Nassar also pled guilty to federal charges for possessing thousands of images of child pornography. More than 120 women and girls tell MSU police that Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of treatment.

Nassar was fired from MSU in September 2016. The university has hired attorneys to investigate who knew what about the allegations against Nassar.

MSU says it has no plans to release that internal review.

Meanwhile, lawsuits against Nassar and the university allege that MSU officials have been receiving reports of abuse since 1999.

Bailey Lorencen hugs Rachel Denhollander
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

One week ago, state prosecutor Angela Polivaitis announced that 88 women and girls would give victim impact statements in the sentencing hearing of disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Now the prosecution says that number has risen to 144, and more may decide to speak before the sentence is announced this week.

Aly Raisman
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Today is the fourth day of a sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University sports doctor charged with sexually assaulting young girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.

Kyle Stephens
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

For hours, they kept stepping before the court, one after another, more than two dozen women and girls speaking directly to the man who sexually abused them as children.

“I’ve been coming for you for a long time,” Kyle Stephens told Larry Nassar, her mother crying beside her.

Michigan State University sign
MSU

It’s going to be another news-packed week in the case of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor who sexually abused patients under the guise of treatment.

Nassar will be back in state court Tuesday, where he’ll be sentenced after pleading guilty to multiple sexual assaults. Some 88 women and girls are expected to make victim impact statements. But before that, here’s what you need to know about how Michigan State University is handling the case.

kids in hallway
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio file photo

More than 1,000 people sent in tips about suicide threats to a state-run student safety hotline last year. It’s the first time suicide was the most common concern of all incoming tips.

MSU Today

No one at Michigan State University followed up to make sure that Larry Nassar was complying with policies put in place by MSU following a Title IX sexual assault investigation in 2014. Instead, the school allowed Nassar to return to work, even as its own campus police investigation into Nassar continued for more than a year.

Michigan State Police patrol vehicle shield
Michigan State Police

Julia Simonelli says when she walked into the Michigan State Police post in Cadillac and told them she needed addiction treatment, police spent hours trying to find the right rehab center for her.

detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Six Detroit police officers are being charged with extortion.

The FBI says they took bribes from collision shop owners, in exchange for sending stolen cars their way.

A federal grand jury just indicted two of the officers, who are still employed by the department.

The other four have since retired, and pleaded guilty to extortion.

And if you ever had your car stolen in Detroit, you may have unknowingly been part of this scam.

The "Sparty" statue on the MSU campus
Betsy Weber / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As calls for an independent investigation into Michigan State University's handling of the sexual assault charges against former sports Dr. Larry Nassar grow louder, here’s a rundown of people currently working at MSU, who victims say were either 1) told about Nassar’s abuse years ago; or 2) whose failures to protect children and students on campus, they believe, border on negligence. 

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