May 14, 2021
Best of the States
Nimble AP reporting reveals Alabama trooper charged in child rape hid alleged misconduct at FBI
In a classic case of keeping an open mind during reporting, AP’s Jim Mustian and Kim Chandler started out reporting one story, but found themselves reporting exclusively that an Alabama state trooper, arrested on charges he raped an 11-year-old girl, had used a forged letter and lied on his application to get hired after being removed from the FBI — also on serious allegations of sexual misconduct.
To federal law enforcement reporter Mustian, this initially appeared as yet another case of the FBI allowing an accused agent to quietly move on with his career. But just as he was about to publish, the FBI said the bureau letter Christopher Bauer submitted to Alabama authorities when he was hired was “not legitimate.” Meanwhile, Chandler, Montgomery statehouse reporter, tracked down Bauer’s application for the trooper job, in which he said he was still employed by the FBI and had never been forced to resign because of disciplinary action.
This had become the story of a former agent, and perhaps others, falsifying his record. The piece was among the week’s top stories on AP News, with nearly 200,000 pageviews.
For deep reporting that followed the story wherever it took them, Mustian and Chandler earn this week’s Best of the States award.