News Column

Cleveland Kidnap Victims Break Silence in YouTube Video

July 9, 2013

Washington (dpa) - Two months after their escape from a kidnapper who held them captive for years in his house in Cleveland, Ohio, three women broke their silence Tuesday in videos released on YouTube.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight appear healthy and happy as they read statements thanking their families, neighbours and people who donated to a fund established for them.

"I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family and my friends," said a smiling Berry in the three-minute-long video. "It has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness."

Berry said she was doing better every day and asked for continued respect of her privacy. She was abducted at age 16 in 2003 and has a 6-year-old daughter, who was born during her captivity.

DeJesus was kidnapped at age 14 in 2004 and Knight at age 20 in 2002. The women escaped in early May.

Knight, who investigators say was held the longest and suffered some of the worst beatings and rapes, has undergone reconstructive facial surgery, ABC News reported.

"I may have been through hell and back but I am strong enough to walk though hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground," she said in the video.

Knight, wearing a necklace with a cross, says she refuses to be "consumed by hatred." She says she believes the plan God gave is to help others who have been in the same situation she was in and concludes the message by thanking supporters for their prayers.

"I'm looking forward to my brand new life," she said.

None of the women mentioned Ariel Castro, the man charged with kidnapping, raping and holding them captive. Castro, 52, pleaded not guilty last month after being indicted on 329 criminal counts. He could face the death penalty for allegedly beating Knight so severely it forced her to miscarry.

Donations to a fund set up for the women and their families total more than 1 million dollars, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. More than 9,000 donors have sent money.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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