Beating victim Josie Lou Ratley entered a new stage of recovery Wednesday morning, joined by family members she will be leaning on during a long, painful and uncertain rehabilitation process, her family's lawyer said.
Ratley, 15, was taken to an undisclosed local rehabilitation facility Tuesday after spending close to six weeks at Broward General Medical Center. She was brought to the Fort Lauderdale hospital on March 17 after she was brutally assaulted on the Deerfield Beach Middle School campus.
"Her family's going to be heavily involved in her rehabilitation," attorney Rick Freedman said. Ratley will need to undergo occupational, physical and speech therapy, he said, and her family will need help teaching her the things she needs to relearn.
Ratley suffered brain damage that affected the right side of her body. She still cannot speak, walk or use her right arm and fingers. She is in a facility with a regimented program, and therapists wanted to waste no time getting started, Freedman said.
The lawyer representing Wayne Treacy, who admits to the violent assault, said the suspect's family is pleased to hear of Ratley's progress. Attorney Russell Williams said Treacy is remorseful and asks about Ratley frequently. Treacy's mother, Donna Powers, was "very happy" to learn Ratley was out of the hospital, Williams said Wednesday.
Treacy has apologized for the assault through his lawyer, and Powers did so on NBC's "Today" show.
Williams has indicated that the defense against the charge of first-degree attempted murder will focus on Treacy's mental health.
Treacy was reportedly enraged by a text message exchange with Ratley on March 17 in which she made a reference to Treacy's brother, who committed suicide last October.
Late last week, deputies searching the Treacy home found a "letter/will" he may have written before the assault on Ratley; no other details were available.
Rafael Olmeda can be reached at rolmeda@SunSentinel.com or 954-356-4694.
Rehab begins for Deerfield school beating victim Josie Lou Ratley
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