Kate Wells | Michigan Radio
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Kate Wells

Reporter

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and co-host of the Michigan Radio and NPR podcast Believed. The series was widely ranked among the best of the year, drawing millions of downloads and numerous awards. She and co-host Lindsey Smith received the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Judges described their work as "a haunting and multifaceted account of U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s belated arrest and an intimate look at how an army of women – a detective, a prosecutor and survivors – brought down the serial sex offender."

Wells and her family live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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.

Picture of Michigan State University marker on campus
Michigan State University

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. 

https://www.michiganstateuniversityonline.com/about/michigan-state/

It’s been a rough several days for Michigan State University and its president, Lou Anna K. Simon.

Larry Nassar
Michigan Attorney General's office

The former Olympic gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor who sexually abused patients under the guise of treatments, got what’s effectively a life sentence today – albeit for different crimes.

Nassar in court.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A judge has sentenced a Michigan sports doctor to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes, one of three criminal cases against a man who also admits assaulting female gymnasts.

Larry Nassar in court with his attorneys, Shannon Smith and Matthew Newburg.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

As she prepares to sentence a former Olympic gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor for child pornography possession next week, federal Judge Janet Neff is getting a picture of two very different Larry Nassars.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Enbridge Energy temporarily shut down Line 5 operations in the Straits of Mackinac Tuesday morning. 

Under a new agreement with the state, Enbridge has to suspend Line 5 operations in the Straits during severe weather when waves reach eight feet or more.

That agreement also requires the energy company to ramp up efforts to prevent a spill.  

Paul Weaver / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The argument that bad guys will always find a way to get guns, so gun laws don’t help, doesn’t appear to apply to intimate partner homicides.

Kate Wells

Thousands of home-bound people across the state had their turkey and pie (or apple crisp for the diabetics) dropped off at their door today. It’s one of the busiest times of year for Meals on Wheels, whose average recipient is about 75, female, and lives alone. “But they’re fiercely independent,” says Beth Adams, director of Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels. 

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

Michigan State University wants to prove it takes sexual assault issues seriously. After a year in which a former MSU sports doctor was arrested and accused of sexually abusing at least 120 women and girls, and three former football players were charged with sexual misconduct, the school brought in a law firm to review its Title IX policies and procedures.

A small group of women (including some not pictured here) have met up to share and process their alleged abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar. From left: Christine Harrison, Larissa Boyce, Jennifer Smith, and Alexis Alvarado
Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

This year, more than 120 women and girls found out they’re part of the same terrible club.

As children and teens, they were all allegedly abused by former Michigan State University and Olympic gymnastics sports doctor, Larry Nassar.

Now, as Nassar considers a plea deal next week on multiple sexual assault charges, some of these women and girls are meeting for the first time.
 

Larry Nassar in court in recent months with his attorneys, Shannon Smith and Matthew Newburg.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

For the 120-plus women and girls who were allegedly abused by former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar, it’s overwhelming to think that he may actually admit to assault as early as next week.

Nassar, who also worked as the doctor for the US Olympic women’s gymnastics team, is scheduled to have a plea hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court next week, where he’s facing more than a dozen charges, including multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a child under the age of 13.

why kei/unsplash.com

Starting today, law enforcement in five counties are piloting a new roadside drug test that analyzes saliva swabs for marijuana, opioids, meth, and other drugs above a certain threshold.

“When you say ‘roadside drug testing pilot begins,’ everybody thinks that we're setting up checkpoints and putting swabs in everybody's mouth,” says First Lieutenant Michael Shaw, a spokesperson for the state police. “And that's not the case.”

congresswoman brenda lawrence talking
brendalawrence.com

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat from Michigan’s 14th district, says she would have “promptly investigated” any complaints of sexual harassment in her office – but she never received any.

Nassar in court.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

“Bubba will be his new bed partner.”

“Special circle of hell waiting for him.”

Those are just a couple of the Facebook comments Larry Nassar’s attorneys submitted to Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina last month, as part of their bid to move his upcoming trial out of the county.

It’s evidence, they argue, that after all the “inflammatory” media coverage of Nassar’s alleged sexual assaults, he can’t get a fair trial in the county where he’s lived and practiced for years.

Drew Hayes

Synthetic opioids are evolving so fast, even Michigan’s forensic scientists are caught in a game of cat and mouse: As soon as a new synthetic gets identified, another one pops up.

First it was fentanyl, which can be lethal even in very small doses – far smaller than a lethal dose of heroin. Then it was carfentanil, which made headlines for being even more powerful than fentanyl. And new variations on these synthetics keep turning up in crimes scenes and autopsies.

Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt says at least with carfentanil, they knew what they were dealing with.

“But when you get these synthetic fentanyls, who come from who knows where, you don’t know what their potency is,” he says. “But so far they’ve proven to be more potent than just plain old fentanyl.”

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