Sacto 9-1-1
November 14, 2011
Torture victim recovering well, family says

By Sam Stanton

Duewa Lee, the 35-year-old woman suspected of torturing her boyfriend's 12-year-old daughter after he went off to prison over the summer, made another brief court appearance today as the girl's family members said the victim is recovering with a foster family and is back in school.

"She's doing better than everybody expected," the girl's uncle, Melvin Smith, said after the court hearing. "You don't see scars on her hand or her face."

Smith and other family members were allowed to see the girl two weeks ago for an hour during a visit supervised by Child Protective Services, which took custody of the girl after she escaped her alleged abuser. The girl's grandmother, who is seeking custody, has another meeting scheduled with her today, family members said.

"We're still waiting to see whether they're going to let her grandmother take custody," Deena Smith, the girl's aunt, said after sitting through the court appearance.

Lee, who is being held in the Sacramento County Jail in lieu of $3 million bail, did not enter a plea and had her next court date set for Jan. 23.

Lee, who has told detectives she is not guilty of the accusations, faces 12 felony counts alleging that she systematically beat, burned, starved and tortured the girl over the summer. The case is one of the worst nonfatal child abuse cases in recent memory in the region, and one prosecutor likened Lee's treatment of the girl to a "reign of terror."

The girl escaped when Lee was visiting a DMV office with her in tow and she ran to a stranger asking for help.

The girl was treated for her injuries at UC Davis Medical Center before being placed with a foster family.

"She's doing great," Deena Smith said. "You look at her and you don't see that she's been injured, but we've only seen her for an hour."

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