News

WATCH: Ohio women freed from abduction release video

WATCH: Ohio women freed from abduction release video

Three young Ohio women freed two months ago from a decade of captivity released a video. Photo: YouTube/Hennes Paynter Communications

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Three young Ohio women freed two months ago from a decade of captivity in the home of a former school bus driver spoke publicly for the first time since their ordeal in a video released early on Tuesday thanking supporters and loved ones.

The video was filmed last week in the offices of the law firm managing a trust fund established for the three women, who took turns in separate appearances before the camera to express gratitude for donations to the fund and for a chance to rebuild their lives.

Organizers said the Cleveland Courage Fund has grown to more than $1 million as of July 2, with over 9,200 individuals making contributions.

The 3 1/2-minute long video marked the first sustained glimpse of all three women – Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32 – since they were rescued on May 6.

Ariel Castro, fired last fall from his job as a Cleveland school bus driver, has been charged with kidnapping the three victims between 2002 and 2004 and brutalizing them while holding them captive in his house over the next 10 years.

Officials said the three women were kept bound for periods of time in chains or rope and that they endured starvation, beatings and sexual assaults. One of them, Knight, was said to have suffered several miscarriages deliberately induced by her captor, for which Castro has been charged with murder.

Explaining the reason for the video’s release, Knight’s lawyer, Kathy Joseph, said, “People are recognizing them now as they go about in public, so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages.”

Berry, rescued along with the 6-year-old daughter she bore during her captivity, spoke first, reading from a short statement that thanked family and friends and concluded by asking that “everyone respect our privacy and give us time to have a normal life.”

DeJesus appeared next, stating simply: “I would say thank you for your support.” Her father and mother also spoke briefly.

The video was capped by a lengthier statement from Knight, who said she wanted “everyone to know that I’m doing just fine.”

“I may have been through hell and back, but I’m strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face, and with my head held high, and my feet firmly on the ground,” she said, adding she was determined not to “let the situation define who I am.”

Castro, who turns 53 on Wednesday, is scheduled to return to a downtown Cleveland courtroom on June 24. A judge ruled last week that he was competent to stand trial on 329 criminal counts, including charges of kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder.

Latest Stories

12 hours ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Boy Found Safe; Amber Alert Canceled

Williams

A 3-year-old boy who was the subject of an amber alert has been returned to a relative.

12 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Oregon Trail,’ ‘Sonic’ join World Video Game Hall of Fame

videogamehall2016AP

Last year, "Super Mario Bros." and "Pong" were among the first inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The class of 2016 is just as strong.

12 hours ago in Local, Surrounding Counties

Woman Sex Offender Fails To Register

Department of Justice Logo (RG)

An Augusta County woman has admitted she failed to register as a sex offender.

14 hours ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Local Officials Celebrate Full Reservoir

Updated
GaffneyMike052206

Area residents are celebrating a full Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

14 hours ago in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

New Beer Created To Celebrate DMB

Updated
Dave Matthews Band Logo

A local brewery creates a Pilsner to mark the 25th anniversary of the Dave Matthews Band.