WUOMFM

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.   

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.

Foreclosure is a real risk for thousands struggling to pay back taxes
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.

Former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar, wearing orange jumpsuit, in court Friday.
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.


MSU police say the three men assaulted a young woman in a bathroom at a campus party
Flickr/Betsy Weber

On Tuesday morning, Detective Chad Davis told an East Lansing judge what MSU police believe happened in the early morning hours of January 16th.

At a party in an on-campus apartment, Davis says, a young woman started talking with Josh King, an MSU football player she’d met before. He asked her if she wanted to go somewhere quiet to talk, and pulled her into the bathroom.

There, Davis says King tried to initiate sex, but the woman says she told King she didn’t want to.

Spartan Stadium
Ed Schipul / Flickr

Josh King, Donnie Corley Jr, and Demetric Vance were officially charged with sexual assault Tuesday morning, MSU police announced.

“King has been charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of capturing/distributing image of an unclothed person. Vance and Corley Jr. each has been charged with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct,” the department said in a release.

  Between sports physician Larry Nasser being accused of sexually preying on athletes for decades and four football players charged with criminal sexual conduct, Michigan State University is an institution in crisis.
John M. Quick / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In the early morning hours of January 16, three football players allegedly assaulted a young woman at a party in an on-campus apartment.

That’s according to Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon, who announced she’s authorizing charges against the three men on Monday.

Their names won’t be released by the prosecutor’s office until they’re arraigned, a spokesman said. Michigan Radio reached out to the men’s attorneys, but they either declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond.

C/O Youtube

Michigan State University will not renew its contract with Curtis Blackwell, a school spokesman confirmed Tuesday. The news was first reported by Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press.

Blackwell, a former Detroit high school coach and co-founder of the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp, was brought on staff for his relationships with potential recruits in the region.

Kate Wells

“How you doing, kiddo?” Judge Donald Allen asked a 17-year-old witness who’d just wrapped up a long, disturbing story of sexual assault that she says has damaged both her ability to trust and her desire to be touched. “That wasn’t fun,” she admitted, her eyes red and wet for the first time since she took the stand.

“Better than the dentist?” the judge joked.

“I’d much rather go to the dentist,” she replied.

lower half of gymnast on balance beam
James Thomas/flickr creative commons

Former Olympic gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar will be back in district court in Mason today. He'll face some of the women and girls who claim he sexually abused them while he was supposed to be treating their injuries.

MSU football players approach the field
Matt Radick / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

So here’s what we know: on Tuesday, the attorney for a woman accusing three MSU football players of rape, told the press that MSU’s internal Title IX investigation found all three men in violation of school policy.

“What I can share is that the Title IX investigation is complete,” says Karen Truszkowski, the lawyer for the accuser. “[MSU’s investigator] did a very fair, reasonable, thorough investigation. And the report does say that three young men involved in this are in violation of a university policy.”

Kate Wells

The courtroom was ready for an intense day: this is, after all, a case in which the defendant has been accused of sexual assault by not just the seven women and girls in this particular hearing, but by more than 80 complainants thus far, according to the Michigan State Police.

It was just the first of what may well be three days of testimony, as 55th District Court Judge Donald Allen weighs whether there’s enough evidence against Dr. Larry Nassar, former MSU sports doctor and  Olympic gymnastics team physician, to go to trial in this case.

Judge's gavel
Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Rachael Denhollander will be the first to take the stand at 9 am on Friday, according to her attorney. It's the first day of preliminary hearings in a case involving her and 6 other alleged victims, who claim they were abused by Dr. Larry Nassar. 

“Yeah, I’m really not looking forward to it, to be honest,” Denhollander says. The mom of three is at home on the phone, while her husband’s in the background wrangling their 2-year-old (whose molars are coming in painfully and loudly.)

Drew, Cooper & Anding / YouTube Video

Since Rachael Denhollander went public with her accusations against former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar in September, more than 80 women and girls have come forward with similar complaints.

Seven of the women and girls who say they were sexually abused by a former sports doctor will begin testifying against him next week.

Larissa Boyce's scrapbook photos from the MSU Spartan youth gymnastics program
Courtsey of Larissa Boyce

What happens when a child reports sexual abuse, but adults don’t believe them?

Flickr Creative Commons

Four more former patients, including a 14-year-old dancer, are suing former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar for sexual abuse.

They join more than 80 other women and girls who claim Nassar abused them under the guise of treatment.

In the lawsuit filed Monday, one woman says Nassar abused her around 1992 to 1993, when he was still in medical school at MSU. A spokesman for MSU confirmed Nassar graduated in 1993.

Alberto Ortiz/Flicker

They're stunned, confused and outraged.

"I'm not a lawyer and have only a very basic understanding of our legal system,” says former Olympic gymnast Jamie Dantzscher, in an affidavit filed in federal court Tuesday. 

Pages