Last updated: May 13. 2014 5:01AM - 548 Views

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It was a transcendent and timely tribute to two women, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, who had survived the unimaginable and whose stories provide hope to the families of the missing.

Berry and DeJesus were the star attraction at Tuesday’s 12th annual Hope Awards Dinner hosted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

But the missing-children’s center left someone out: the former Michelle Knight, now known as Lily Rose Lee, the longest-held of Ariel Castro’s three captives.

The center didn’t intend to insult Lee.

“As a children’s organization, we honored the two women who were children at the time of their abduction and whose cases we worked on,” Adrienne M. Owen of the center wrote in an email to the editorial board.

Yes, Lee was 21 years old and an adult when Ariel Castro abducted her in August 2002. Both Berry and DeJesus were teenagers, 16 and 14, respectively, when they were subsequently kidnapped by Castro, in April 2003 and April 2004, respectively.

All three women were subjected to the same sexual, emotional and physical abuse day after day, year after year….

(Lee’s) mother had reported her missing, but police later concluded she was a runaway, according to news reports. The FBI reportedly removed Lee’s case from its missing-persons database after 15 months….

And Lee became “The Forgotten One.”

And, unfortunately, that is also how the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children treated her Tuesday.

Maybe she doesn’t meet their criteria, but if ever a survivor symbolized hope, it is Lee. She deserved to stand on that stage with her sisters-in-survival, Berry and DeJesus.

— The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

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