Kate Wells

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.

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In early April, the coronavirus was killing more than 700 New Yorkers every day. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced those spiking death tolls but added a note of hope - shutdown and social distancing were working.

Cyndi Engelhardt woke up at 5 a.m. one day last month, and laying there in bed she just knew it. She was sick.

She'd had some chest congestion the night before. Now her muscles ached. So in those dark early hours, she got up to take her temperature: 102 degrees.

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“Here’s the question that even I have difficulty with: are you having thoughts of suicide?” Frank King told a crowded room in Lansing on Tuesday. An estimated 500 students, school counselors, and other educators came in from across the state for a Student Mental Health Summit, where the focus ranged from social media to the impact of putting therapists in schools. 

One year into a state turnaround program, some of Michigan's lowest-performing schools are showing improvement.

Tom McKee is having some hard conversations right now. 

Kelly Mickel is alone, in her office, at four p.m. on a Tuesday.

 

A high school football coach and teacher has agreed to resign and will receive $20,000 as part of a settlement with the Hanover-Horton school district. That’s after a district investigation found it “more likely than not” Coach Johnnie Stewart engaged in a sexual relationship with a former student some 20 years ago, beginning when the student was 16 years old.

More than a year before ex-Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej resigned for having an “inappropriate relationship” with a sexual assault victim in one of his cases, his previous employer, the Macomb County Prosecutor, moved him off the Child Protection and Sex Crimes unit. 

Updated September 10, 6:45 p.m.: A state sex crimes prosecutor is now the one under criminal investigation.

On Thursday, the Michigan State Police notified the state Attorney General that Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej “had allegedly engaged in an intimate relationship with one of the victims” in a high-profile sexual assault case involving Central Michigan University students.

Kolodziej resigned on Friday after admitting to the relationship, which he says began in April of 2019 and continued through August.  

Updated September 10, 11:18 am: MSU President Samuel Stanley is declining a call from some Larry Nassar survivors to restart an independent investigation, after the Board of Trustees announced it was "pausing" that investigation on Friday.

Most of Michigan’s public preschool teachers say they’ll leave their jobs in the next five years, or they’re thinking about it.

Five years after half a million Toledo-area residents were told not to drink or touch their tap water for two days, the same thick green sludge responsible for the 2014 water crisis has now spread across 600 square miles of western Lake Erie.

Kids in Flint are heading back to school Wednesday, as the district transitions to a year-round calendar.

It’s an increasingly popular model with a mixed track record, but school leaders in Flint say they’ve had some success with the “balanced calendar” already in one of the district’s elementary schools. And it’s worth trying, says Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez, if it can reduce summer brain drain and help instructors reach struggling students sooner. 

If you live in one of 19 communities around the state, Michigan officials would like to help you break into the legal recreational marijuana business; a business that in other places has often been segregated by race and income.

The future for some private colleges will come down to their ability to think “outside the [traditional tuition] box,” says Jayson Boyers, President of Cleary University, a small business school based in Howell.

And for Cleary, that means partnering with private companies to allow the company’s employees, and those employees’ spouses, kids, and even grandkids, a free online education.

Last updated Aug 2, 3:14 pm: Governor Gretchen Whitmer appears to support changing state law to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Her position seems to come as a bit of a surprise, even to immigration advocates.

Whitmer was backstage at the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate Wednesday night in Detroit, when she was approached by a volunteer organizer.

After an 18-month investigation into how former sports doctor Larry Nassar was able to abuse so many athletes for so long, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators released their findings on Tuesday.

A new report maps out which neighboring Michigan school districts are the most segregated by race, poverty, and revenue. It comes 45 years after the U.S. Supreme Court told white families in Michigan (and by extension, the nation) if they wanted to avoid mandatory school integration, all they had to do was move to a whiter district.

“As if quarantining students of color, we have forced them into racially dense and underfunded systems, and then built walls around them,” reads the report from EdBuild, an activist group aimed at disrupting “the status quo of illogical and inequitable school funding.”

Hanover-Horton school officials chose not to remove a teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old student, even as that allegation was investigated for months by the Michigan State Police, because the district’s lawyers told them not to. 

 

“ICE RAIDS STARTED IN DEARBORN,” the social media and Whatsapp messages warned on Monday afternoon. Dearborn residents sent the messages to each other after agents from Homeland Security Investigations visited Hamido, a well-known Middle-Eastern Dearborn restaurant.

“‘I can’t wait until you’re 18,’” Hanover-Horton teacher and football coach Johnnie Stewart told her in the high school gym, “because of all the things he could legally, physically do to me,” the young woman recalls. It was 2015. She was his 16-year old student.

She looks small in the high-ceilinged lobby, her hair pulled back in a heart-shaped barrette, wearing a sundress and pink ruffled socks. She holds hands with her caseworker, gazing up silently at the security guards as they smile at her, beckoning her through the metal detectors and telling her how pretty she looks.

Here’s some news you’ve seen before: Michigan State University is launching a new investigation into how its former sports doctor, Larry Nassar, was able to sexually abuse so many patients for decades, despite numerous victims reporting to authorities.

If you’re a woman in the United States, you’re more likely to die from pregnancy-related problems than in any other developed country. Now, researchers are shedding more light on why new moms are at risk, beyond obstetric issues like severe hypertension and hemorrhage.

Update, Tuesday June 11: A spokeswoman for the SEIU Local 1 chapter says they've still not received a response to the strike vote from SecurAmercia. Still no firm date yet for when the strike might start.

Original post June 10: Last night, security officer Darian Stevens says he had to bike two hours home from work. That’s because he can’t afford a car or an apartment near his job in downtown Detroit.

“We secure billion dollar buildings, and as I’ve found lately, I don’t even make enough to have a home down here,” Stevens says. “Whereas if I did have $15 [an hour] at least and union rights, then I’d be able to pick my own housing freely.”

It’s not an F, but it is an I for Incomplete.

That’s the grade a federal judge is giving regulators for approving Enbridge Energy’s emergency response plan for an oil spill from Line 5, the pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

For $1,000 or more, maybe you too could have been a reserve officer for the Oakley Police Department.

That’s how much it cost to buy into a gun ring being run by former Police Chief Robert Reznick, according to court filings.

For nearly 15 years, Brianne Randall-Gay has been looking for answers.

Why didn’t the Meridian Township Police believe her in 2004, when she told them Larry Nassar sexually assaulted her under the guise of medical treatment?

Why didn’t they follow typical procedure and send her case to the prosecutor for review? And why were detectives so willing to accept Nassar’s lies, they didn’t even bother running his explanations past another medical expert?

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