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Monday, May 27, 2024

Judge lowers bail for former UF biological scientist accused of child abuse

Dustin Huff, Yurui Xie pleaded not guilty

A Gainesville judge reduced bond Wednesday for a former UF biological scientist accused of locking her two children in cages while going to work.

Yurui Xie, 31, along with Dustin Huff, 35, were arrested Dec. 8 on two felony charges of aggravated child abuse and one felony charge of child neglect. They both pleaded not guilty and are under a no-contact order issued by the court.

The couple locked their two children in makeshift cages while going to work as scientists for UF, according to arrest reports. 

The couple kept their 6-year-old son in a large, wooden enclosure made of two-by-fours every night until it was time for school. They also kept their 2-year-old son underneath an upside-down baby crib inside a bathroom closet, with exposed metal wiring and limited airflow, according to arrest reports. 

The children currently reside with a family member through an arrangement with the Department of Children and Families, and have been seen by pediatricians, according to court records.

Xie acknowledged wrongdoing and said, “Yes, it is wrong,” when questioned about her actions, court documents revealed. 

When asked why, she responded, “My husband.”

Xie was a safety manager and research biologist for the UF Plant Pathology Department and received FBI screening to obtain these positions, according to court records. Huff was a biological scientist for the Horticultural Sciences Department. 

They were trespassed from all UF properties on Dec. 11. 

Xie, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, surrendered her passport Tuesday. The judge, citing concerns she might flee the country, ordered her not to leave Alachua County, according to court documents.

Xie also filed a motion with the court to reduce her $600,000 bond, raising multiple issues of law and disputing allegations she left the children alone and unattended. 

Florida Statute §827.03 defines aggravated child abuse as “willfully and unlawfully cag[ing] a child.” Xie’s defense attorneys argue the large, makeshift wooden cage she used does not meet the definition of “cage” provided by a Florida appeals court, which construed the word to mean “some type of wire or bar boxlike structure or a small restrictive enclosure.”

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Without ruling on the merits of Xie’s claim, the judge reduced her bond from $600,000 to $50,000. Xie would only have to pay $5,000 to a bail bondsman to secure her release.

Huff, also charged in this case, hasn’t attempted to reduce his bond or challenge the arrest as of Friday afternoon. Like Xie, he pleaded not guilty.

The State Attorney’s Office and defense attorneys for Xie and Huff have not responded to requests for comment as of Friday afternoon.

Contact Daniel Bednar at Follow him on Twitter @Danielbednar5. 

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Daniel Bednar

Daniel Bednar is a first-year political science major and the Criminal Justice reporter for The Alligator. When he's not writing, you can find him scuba diving in the Keys or flying airplanes. 

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