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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.   

Alex Pasarelu

The state health department says it found no significant increases in stillbirths or infant mortality in Flint, following the city's water crisis.

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

Larissa Boyce has good days and bad days.

Today is a good day. Boyce’s husband, Adam, a teacher, and their three oldest kids are at school, leaving just her and three-year-old Skyler to visit Grandpa and the central passion of Skyler’s life: Grandpa’s tractor.

“All done with tractor,” Skyler announces solemnly at the end of their ride. (A few minutes later: “Go tractor?”)

MSU is conducting a massive internal review into former sports doctor Larry Nassar, pictured here in court
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University is paying a ton of money for some of the best lawyers in the country.

Their job? Investigate how a former MSU sports doctor, Larry Nassar, could allegedly abuse dozens of young patients for years – and whether anybody at MSU knew about it.

Aditya Romansa/Unsplah

You couldn’t miss the headlines about Flint’s “fertility crisis” a couple weeks ago. “Flint’s water crisis led to fewer babies and higher fetal death rates,” Science Daily summarized. “An estimated 275 fewer children were born in Flint, Michigan, while the city was using lead-contaminated water from the Flint River, according to new research findings,” the article said.

Official Website of Spartan Athletics

The three former MSU football players facing sexual assault charges in East Lansing have waived their rights to preliminary exams. The case will now advance to circuit court.

Josh King, 19, is facing first degree criminal sexual conduct charges for allegedly assaulting a female MSU student at party on campus in January. Those charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. He’s also facing one count of “capturing/distributing image of unclothed person,” for allegedly filming part of the assault.

MSU football helmet
Wikimedia Commons

Three former Michigan State University football players are scheduled be back in court today. Donnie Corley, Demetric Vance and Josh King facie sexual assault charges after an incident on campus that allegedly happened in January.

Davontae Sanford was wrongfully convicted of four murders at age 14. He was released from prison in 2016 spending nearly nine years behind bars.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Davontae Sanford is suing the city of Detroit, as well as former Detroit Police Commander James Tolbert and Sgt. Mike Russell, for wrongful imprisonment. 

Sanford spent nearly nine years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. At age 14, he was picked up by Detroit police in 2007 after four people were gunned down in a home in his neighborhood. Police interrogated him off and on for 2 days without a parent or attorneys present.

Michigan State University sign
MSU

Cameron Padgett wants at least $75,000 in damages, and a court order forcing Michigan State University to let white supremacist Richard Spencer speak on campus.

“It’s been kind of a struggle,” says Padgett, a 23-year-old student at Georgia State University, who’s also been arranging campus lectures for Spencer at schools like Auburn University and the University of Florida. Those attempts have not gone smoothly. “Everyone says they’re for free speech, but when it comes down to it, this country’s moving away from that.”

In July, Padgett says he tried to rent an MSU conference room for Spencer to give a talk about his "alt-right" philosophy, which “advances European racial interests … and [criticizes] free trade agreements, radical feminism, sexual deviancy, and the ideology of multiculturalism,” according to the lawsuit.

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Ken Nobis is a dairy farmer in central Michigan, and right now he’s worried about where South Koreans are going to get their cheese.

A small community college is suing the state of Michigan, in a fight over whether some student workers should have to enroll in the public school teacher’s retirement fund.

“Yeah, it is difficult to explain craziness, but I’ll try,” says David Mathews, President of Southwestern Michigan College. The school has about 2,600 students enrolled on campuses in Dowagiac and Niles, he says. Around half are full-time students, and half are part-time.

National Guardsmen pulling people onto boat.
Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

The Michigan National Guard is deploying 24 guardsmen and three helicopters — two CH-47 Chinooks, and one UH-72 Lakota — to Texas on Thursday to assist with Hurricane Harvey rescue and relief efforts. Approximately 350 additional guardsmen are on standby.

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police

A Michigan State Police trooper has been suspended after he shot a 15-year-old all-terrain vehicle driver with a Taser, prior to the teen fatally crashing into the back of a pickup truck.

NOAA

More than 60 Red Cross volunteers from Michigan were deployed to disaster areas as of Sunday night to help manage shelters, serve food, and assess damage from Hurricane Harvey.

Michigan Dept. of Corrections

It started with a taping of a 90s daytime talk show. In March of 1995, The Jenny Jones Show did an episode about “secret same-sex crushes.” Scott Amedure, a Michigan resident, nervously gushed to the studio audience about his feelings for an acquaintance, Jonathan Schmitz. Schmitz was then brought out in front of the cameras, where Jones, the host, revealed that Amedure was his secret admirer.

“Did you have any idea that he liked you this much?” Jones asked.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

One of the toughest things about being a parent in Flint right now is the uncertainty. If your kid gets diagnosed with ADHD, or struggles in school, there’s a part of you that wonders: is it because of the lead exposure?  

user cmh2315fl / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Two driverless cars traveled some 300 miles today, crossing from Detroit over to Windsor, before making their way back into Michigan and up to Traverse City.

The road trip was part experiment, part advertisement: there's a big auto industry shindig happening in Traverse City right now and Michigan is really trying to cement itself as "the place" to build driverless cars.

So to show off, state and Canadian officials got two auto supply companies to do this test drive.

Both cars were in driverless mode on all the highways, and even underwater in the Detroit Windsor tunnel, says Kirk Steudle, Director of Michigan’s Department of Transportation. Although he says the cars got tripped up a couple of times, like right after the toll booths.

Courtesy Seth Herbst

A couple weeks ago, this guy in Kalamazoo County sees something a little odd: what looks like a tiny lobster, trying to cross the road.

He takes a picture of it, and sends it to the man who’s been dreading this moment: Seth Herbst, the aquatic invasive species coordinator for the fisheries division at the Department of Natural Resources.

“And as soon as I saw that photo, it was a clear as day that that was a red swamp crayfish,” Herbst sighs. But his day was only going to get worse. Later that very morning, he heard from another person in that same area – Sunset Lake in Vicksburg – who saw a red swamp crayfish walking around in their yard.

This was bad news.

Courtesy Reprieve

We’ve got an update now on the story of a young Saudi Arabian man who was accepted to Western Michigan University back in 2013, but was arrested by the Saudi government for allegedly taking part in a pro-Democracy protest and sentence to death.

Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat was 17 when he was detained at the airport on his way to visit WMU in 2012, according to the London-based human rights group, Reprieve.

Republican incumbent Tim Walberg beat Democratic challenger Gretchen Driskell in 2016. Now, Driskell is announcing she'll run again in 2018.
Tim Walberg for Congress; Gretchen Driskell for Congress

Despite losing by 15 points in one of the most expensive congressional battles in the state last year, former Saline mayor and state representative Gretchen Driskell believes 2018 could be different.

A courtroom
Bill Ledbetter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Larry Nassar could get anywhere from five to 60 years in federal prison. That’s the range Judge Janet Neff will consider at a sentencing hearing in federal court, which was just scheduled for November 27.

Nassar, who used to be the lead doctor for USA Gymnastics and was a popular clinician at Michigan State University, has been accused of sexual assault and abuse by more than 100 women and girls.

Larry Nassar mug shot
Michigan Attorney General's office

Jeanette Antolin says she feels like federal prosecutors “lied straight to my face.”

A member of the U.S. women’s gymnastics national team from 1995-2000, Antolin says Larry Nassar sexually abused her for years in his role as team doctor. Nassar was also a professor and clinician at Michigan State University until he was fired in 2016.

Larry Nassar at a hearing in Michigan earlier this year
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The former doctor for the U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team, who was also a respected clinician at Michigan State University before he was fired, is expected to plead guilty to three charges of child pornography at a hearing Tuesday morning.

In exchange, federal prosecutors won't go after Larry Nassar for allegedly molesting two kids in his swimming pool in 2015, or for allegedly traveling with the intent of sexually assaulting two minors between 2006 and 2013.

Pamela, Lourdes and Bryan Quintana-Salazar.
Kate Wells

Lourdes Salazar Bautista says even though her kids are U.S. citizens and one of them has a scholarship at Michigan State University, she just can’t go back to Mexico next month without them.

BasicGov / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

In Wayne County alone, some 10,000 properties are scheduled to be auctioned off this fall because of back taxes, according to Treasurer Eric Sabree. It’s a massive problem affecting people across the Metro Detroit area, and county officials are pushing homeowners to see if they can qualify for federal help.

A courtroom
Bill Ledbetter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

“We don’t tell parents about this, because they wouldn’t understand.” That’s what one young woman says Larry Nassar told her when she was a 15-year-old gymnast at Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, Michigan.

The woman, who’s going by “Victim C” in court documents, tells police Nassar was referring to a procedure he used while treating her in a back room at Twistars: he would “typically insert two or three fingers” into her vagina, according to a police affidavit, and sometimes “his fingers would get close to my cervix.”

Jose Valle-Rodriguez and his two-year-old son.
C/O Karina Valle

On Tuesday, US Immigration Judge Jennifer M. Gorland ruled to reopened Jose Valle-Rodrgiuez’s immigration case, giving the Ypsilanti man a second chance to fight his deportation back to El Salvador. His father-in-law was murdered by gangs in that country, the family says, and they fear Valle-Rodriguez would also become a target.  

Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A federal judge will hold an emergency hearing Monday morning in Detroit, where the ACLU is asking him to temporarily block the deportations of all Iraqi nationals facing removal in the U.S.

This all started a few months ago, when Iraq agreed to accept Iraqi nationals the U.S. wants to deport. For years it had refused to issue travel documents to those individuals.

Then, earlier this month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement rounded up 114 Iraqis living in metro Detroit. Another 85 were taken into custody in other states.

MSU is conducting a massive internal review into former sports doctor Larry Nassar, pictured here in court
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar will stand trial for allegedly sexually assaulting six women and girls, all of whom were 15 years old or younger at the time. He’s accused of using his fingers to penetrate them vaginally and anally, without gloves or consent, under the guise of medical treatment.

As a respected MSU professor and a former Olympic gymnastics team doctor, the prosecution argues he used his reputation to make his alleged victims believe this was legitimate treatment.

Larry Nassar in the court room on Friday, June 23.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Kate Wells is at today's hearing for Larry Nassar. She'll be live-tweeting from the court room. As a warning, some of these tweets may describe sensitive or explicit situations.

Caleb Woods/Upsplash

Dr. Larry Nassar is back in court this week. The former Olympic gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor is accused of sexually abusing dozens of patients, under the guise of treatment.


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