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A woman held captive for 44 days in a West Salem home tearfully recounted brutal details of being sexually assaulted until she bled, burned by a torch lighter, beaten with a closet rod and sprayed with bleach during the trial of the man accused of kidnapping and raping her.
When police finally entered the home the afternoon of Oct. 25, 2015, to rescue her, she said she begged them to take her to jail — a place where she could have food, four walls and relief from the repeated attacks she’d suffered for more than a month.
“I have a warrant,” she told officers. “Please take me to jail.”
After more than two years of hearings and motions, her alleged attacker, Ronnie Lee Jr., 48, stood trial inside the Polk County Courthouse Tuesday.
In her opening arguments, prosecutor Jayme Kimberly detailed how the victim, now 31, began her six-week nightmare at the home on 2100 Marvin Court NW.
The victim met Lee, a man she knew as Bam, in attempt to get heroin. Lee took her to the West Salem home tucked away in a quiet, upscale neighborhood belonging to his girlfriend Irish Boyce, 46, where he injected her with heroin.
The victim nodded off. When she regained consciousness, she was restrained and being sexually assaulted on the couple’s bed. Boyce then beat her with a wooden closet rod.
“They beat her to the point where her eyes were swollen shut,” Kimberly said.
Boyce and Lee initially told her they would free her once her injuries healed, but as the days wore on, the beatings continued and the sexual assaults worsened.
Kimberly said they grazed her face with a blow torch, singeing her eyebrows off. They teased a knife in front of her eyes and threatened to cut her eyeballs out. Kimberly said Lee ordered Boyce to “take off that bitch’s prized possession” by cutting the woman’s waist-length red hair.
Lee forced her to sleep on the bathroom floor. In between the physical abuse, she was raped, assaulted and sodomized dozens of times.
“They tortured her,” Kimberly said.
When she fought back, Lee allegedly cracked a heavy ceramic bowl over her head then had Boyce spray her with bleach. The woman said Lee, who was often high on methamphetamine, rarely gave her food. She spent her days confined to the house, a gnawing hunger in the pit of her stomach. Her clothes were taken away, and Lee destroyed her phone by putting it in a bag of bleach.
The victim said feared she may never leave the home.
“Mr. Lee told me I couldn’t leave unless I was in a body bag,” she said.
Days passed in a blur of sexual and physical abuse and drug use until Oct. 25.
A concerned relative of Boyce’s suspecting domestic abuse asked police stop by her home for a welfare check.
Boyce answered the door and insisted loudly that everything was fine. But she quietly mouthed to the officer that she needed help. When the officer walked down the street with her, she told him Lee was in the house with a gun and woman was being held captive.
Salem police Sgt. Alan Graham entered the home and ordered the occupants out.
The victim remembered thinking they weren’t really the police, that she was being tricked.
“I thought, ‘This is the end’,” she said.
Graham watched as a gaunt woman with a shaved head emerged at the top of the stairs. He likened her appearance to that of a “concentration camp victim.”
Something violent and serious had happened at the home, Graham said. Officers took all three people into custody, and he contacted criminal investigations detectives.
Lee’s attorney Mark Brownlee said the context of the alleged assault and kidnapping took place in the “drug world.” The victim recently had been released from jail and was looking to find some heroin.
During drug transactions, people often offer sex acts in exchange for drugs, he said.
The victim said she knows that such acts are commonplace, but she never exchanged sex for drugs.
Brownlee also questioned whether being high on heroin and unmedicated for her bipolar disorder, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder may have affected her memory of the assaults. Did she really try to leave the home, he questioned. Was her memory accurate?
She stressed that she knew what was happening and going on around her.
Brownlee said the home on Marvin Court was surrounded by other homes and near a busy street.
“Leaving would’ve been quite easy,” he said.
Boyce — who also is facing charges — testified Tuesday that she was a victim of domestic violence and had abused the woman because she was frightened of Lee.
She and Lee met in June 2015. Boyce had worked as a barber before becoming a stay-at-home mom and settling into suburbia with her husband.
Faced with a looming divorce and a drinking problem, she began using methamphetamine. The drug use led her to Lee, who allegedly dealt methamphetamine and heroin.
When the pair began dating, Lee was funny, sweet and kind, Boyce said. He gradually moved into her home and their relationship turned violent.
“The first time I tried to argue with him, he body-slammed me and hit me in the face,” she said.
Boyce said Lee ordered her to beat the victim, sexually abuse her and keep her captive in the house. When he decided Boyce wasn’t punching the woman hard enough, he demanded she beat her with a wooden closet rod.
Boyce said Lee would tire of the sex and turn to violence and drugs.
Lee hit Boyce in the head with his machete and refused to let her eat or sleep, she said.
As he smoked methamphetamine and stayed up for days, Lee’s paranoia worsened. He accused the women of conspiring against him.
She said Lee told her, “If you tell anybody what is going on… I will kill your family.”
Boyce worried about her son, daughter and 18-month-old grandson, whom Lee threatened to attack at a park and slice his throat.
By the time police came to her door, she decided it was time to talk.
“I knew in my heart that things were getting bad. … If I didn’t do something we would both be dead,” Boyce said.
She and Lee were both taken to jail and charged with dozens of counts, including rape, kidnapping, sodomy and sexual assault.
Boyce pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in 2016 as part of an agreement with the Polk County District Attorney’s Office. In exchange for her truthful testimony against Lee, the office agreed to recommend a prison sentence of five years and 10 months in prison with credit for time served.
She is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 27.
Lee waived his right to a jury trial and is facing trial by judge instead. Arguments before Polk County Judge Norman Hill will resume Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
For questions, comments and news tips, email reporter Whitney Woodworth at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 503-399-6884 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth
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