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The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 26,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364573-882-3364  or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.



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  • Pain Pillar Investigated by DEA

    Our attraction to the story of deaths at a clinic run by Dr. Lynn Webster was simple irony. We marveled at how a clinic run by someone who is considered -- at least among pain physicians -- the leading voice about safely prescribing opioids -- could have had so many deaths. Webster is the president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the author of the "Opioid Risk Tool," a checklist that is said to enable doctors to distinguish painkiller addicts from legitimate pain patients. Our initial off-the-record conversations indicated that the Drug Enforcement Agency was investigating a number hovering around 100 deaths. Webster acknowledged, and later denied, up to 20 deaths at the clinic over two decades. Of course, an investigation like this is fraught with complexity. There is the issue of monies that Webster receives from the pharmaceutical industry, and how that might influence his philosophy about prescribing, and the practices at his clinic. We also considered the detail that Webster often was not the person prescribing the medications to patients who eventually died. And there is the complicated nature of opioid prescribing. Despite an 11-year increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in accidental overdose deaths for this class of medications, there remains a hot debate about their utility for patients in chronic pain. We aimed to touch on at least some of these issues in our television piece; and dig a little deeper in a longer piece for CNN digital. Our focus on both platforms was on a case in which Webster was allegedly very involved -- that of Carol Ann Bosley. We also focused our efforts on unearthing more information about deaths at the clinic. The strength of our investigation lay with uncovering information that had previously been unreported -- in particular, allegations of improper involvement by Dr. Webster in the Utah medical examiner's determination about Bosley's cause of death. During a conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Bosley's husband also revealed a previously unreported item about Dr. Webster allegedly luring his wife back to treatment on opioids after she had kicked her habit. CNN also spoke on-camera with Bruce Webb, who lost a loved one after care at Lifetree, along with several others off-camera. Some sources of information about practices at Lifetree were gathered from people filing lawsuits against the clinic. We also mined information from people who had posted comments online about Lifetree Clinic (in one case we tracked down, after several weeks, a person who lost her mother after treatment there, who called the clinic "Deathtree.") CNN was able to use accounts from online posters to bolster the claims of our investigation. Repeated requests by CNN to the Utah Department of Professional Licensing for information about medical malpractice alleged against either Lifetree Clinic or Dr. Webster were denied. We received a handful of cases from that agency, with heavy redaction, none of which contained serious allegations. We pressed for weeks and, after many phone calls, through a source we were able to unearth a claim. It involved a woman who died of an overdose after receiving care at Lifetree, whose prescriptions soared while she was a patient. Of course with all of this information indicating alleged wrongdoing at Lifetree, under Dr. Webster's watch, we wanted his perspective. Through a spokesperson, Dr. Webster strenuously objected -- repeatedly -- to appearing on-camera to address allegations against him. Even when the request was framed in terms of clarifying his approach to opioid prescribing more generally, leaving out any patient claims, the doctor declined. Since our investigation, both on television and online, we spurred a renewed discussion on social media about painkiller use and abuse, and the role of doctors. Off-the-record, we hear that our reporting has spurred some movement in the DEA's continuing investigation of Dr. Webster.

    Tags: Lynn Webster; Drug Enforcement Agency; Opiod

    By Jennifer Bixler

    CNN

    2013

  • The Real CSI

    Evidence collected at crime scenes—everything from fingerprints to bite marks—is routinely called upon in the courtroom to prosecute the most difficult crimes and put the guilty behind bars. And though glamorized on commercial television, in the real world, it’s not so cut-and-dried. A joint investigation by FRONTLINE, ProPublica and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley examines the reliability of the science behind forensics in The Real CSI. From the sensational murder trial of Casey Anthony to the credentialing of forensic experts, “The Real CSI” documents how a field with few uniform standards and unproven science can undermine the search for justice. The investigation follows a landmark study by the National Academy of Sciences that called into question the tenets of forensic science. For the first time, Harry T. Edwards, a senior federal appellate court judge and co-chairman of the report, sits for an interview to discuss what the report means. And, FRONTLINE examines one of the most high-profile terrorist investigations since 9/11: the case of Brandon Mayfield, an attorney who was wrongfully identified and arrested as a suspect in the Madrid commuter train bombings after the FBI erroneously matched his fingerprint to a partial print found at the scene. In “The Real CSI,” FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman finds serious flaws in some of the best known tools of forensic science, wide inconsistencies in how forensic evidence is presented in the courtroom and no system in place for establishing the credibility of so-called “forensic experts” whose testimony can lead to a conviction.

    Tags: Terrorism; Forensic science; CSI

    By Raney Aronson-Rath

    PBS Frontline

    2012

  • Unfair Game

    Texas high school athletics rules prohibit students from transferring from district to district for athletic purposes, but that hasn’t stopped coaches and administrators from openly flouting the rules to assemble state championship-caliber teams as part of an underground recruiting system that puts athletics over academics. WFAA investigative reporter Brett Shipp's reports showed how improper recruiting helped Dallas' Kimball Knights build back-to-back state champ basketball teams, and how former Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders' new school, Prime Prep Academy, also drew in blue-chip players against the rules.

    Tags: Recruiting; High School; Football; Basketball

    By Brett Shipp

    WFAA-Dallas, Tx.

    2012

  • Unfair Game

    Texas high school athletics rules prohibit students from transferring from district to district for athletic purposes, but that hasn’t stopped coaches and administrators from openly flouting the rules to assemble state championship-caliber teams as part of an underground recruiting system that puts athletics over academics. WFAA investigative reporter Brett Shipp's reports showed how improper recruiting helped Dallas' Kimball Knights build back-to-back state champ basketball teams, and how former Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders' new school, Prime Prep Academy, also drew in blue-chip players against the rules.

    Tags: High school athletics; sports; coach; recruiting system; state champion team

    By Brett Shipp, investigative reporter; Billy Bryant, photographer and video editor; Jason Trahan, producer

    WFAA-TV (Dallas)

    2012

  • Fire Academy Diversity

    WBAL-TV exposed the fact that the Baltimore City Fire Department had abandoned its policy regarding recruitment designed to make the agency more diverse. The department has a history of overlooking minorities in recruiting and promotions. 63.2% of Bailtimore is African-American, but out of a 45 class of cadets, only 5 were African-American and 3 were women.

    Tags: Fire Academy; Diversity

    By David Collins; Augusta Brennan-Jones; Charles Cochran

    WBAL-TV (Baltimore)

    2011

  • "Missoula shaken baby conviction relied on science, expert"

    Three-month old Gabriel sustained and eventually died from severe neurological injuries from what investigators determined was "shaken baby syndrome." Gabriel's father, Robert J. Wilkes, was not the initial suspect. However, through the testimony of a child abuse expert from Minnesota and convincing circumstantial evidence, he was eventually found guilty.

    Tags: child abuse; shaken baby; pediatrics; Rick Kaplan; National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse; American Academy of Pediatrics

    By Jayme Fraser

    Missoulian (Missoula, Mont.)

    2010

  • Iron Men of Overtime

    “Two sheriff’s deputies nearly tripled their pay through tremendous amounts of overtime, mostly teaching at a community college”. These deputies would work a great deal of overtime hours, over consecutive days and receive a large amount of overtime pay. After all this became visible, the sheriff put an end to overtime pay through the college, but at this point the deputies had already enhanced their annual pay for three years. Further, it increases their pension benefits for decades to come.

    Tags: law enforcement; police department; police academy; Michael Asmolik; Richard Flanagan Jr.; Kevin Walsh; income; time sheet

    By Michelle Breidenbach; John O' Brien

    Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.)

    2009

  • Mount Bachelor Academy: Ever unconventional, long controversial

    When attending a private school for troubled teens, no one thought they would ever have to do such a thing as performing a lap dance while wearing revealing clothes. This method was "therapy" for victims of sexual abuse. Other types of methods were used, such as "sleep deprivation, extended physical labor, verbal abuse and restricting communication between parents and children." The reason these methods could continue was the school was "catering to the wealthy parents who felt they had nothing to lose and students were afraid to reveal the truth."

    Tags: FOIA; private school; troubled; teens; students; education; mistreatment; abuse; wealth

    By Keith Chu

    The Bulletin (Bend, OR)

    2009

  • CIA Secret Prison in Lithuania

    A CIA secret prison was uncovered in Lithuania in a stable that was once used for a riding academy. ABC news aired video of the prison and revealed the cooperation of the Lithuanian Secret Service and "US front companies."

    Tags: Lithuanian; government; Secret Service; torture; detainee detention

    By Brian Ross; Matthew Cole; Asa Eslocker; Angela Hill; Avni Patel; Mark Schone; Megan Chuchmach; Rhonda Schwartz; Jon Banner; Jim Murphy; Jon Dube

    ABC News

    2009

  • Charter School Investigation

    Charter schools were created to bring educational innovation. Instead, some operators used the schools for private gain. Findings of this Philadelphia Inquirer series include high salaries that surpassed what was paid to district superintendents; operators collecting multiple salaries; operators hiring unqualified family members at high salaries; operators creating other entities to do business with the charter so they could collect additional funds; operators acting as charter school landlords and using the money to buy property for other businesses; operators running a charter through a for-profit company that gets all revenue and keeps the surplus.

    Tags: charter schools; public education; school reform; charter school law; fraud; Philadelphia Academy; private gain

    By Martha Woodall; Dan Hardy; Rose Ciotta

    Philadelphia Inquirer

    2008