'True guardian of children' Kane County abuse prosecutor mourned
Debra Bree was passionate about protecting the children of Kane County, and prosecuting those who hurt them.
She spent most of her 20 years as a Kane County prosecutor doing so, with stints as the first chair of the juvenile division, then as lead prosecutor for the Kane County Child Advocacy Center.
Bree, who became the center's director in 2012, died Thursday, at age 45, of colon cancer.
"We have lost a true guardian of children," State's Attorney Joe McMahon said in a news release, announcing Bree's death. He called her "a champion of children and victim's rights."
Chief Judge Clint Hull, a former prosecutor, called her "a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom -- She could wow a courtroom with her passion and argument."
Bree was a graduate of the DePaul University College of Law.
The Child Advocacy Center investigates and prosecutes cases of suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse and sexual assault.
"The wounds from long periods of sexual abuse often fester unseen for years, even lifetimes. It's so important to report, investigate and prosecute these cases so the victims understand that someone is in their corner, that they're not alone," she said in 2018, when an Aurora man was sentenced to 68 years in prison for sexually assaulting and abusing a child.
She is survived by her husband, four children, her parents and several siblings. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Bree had fought the cancer for two years.