Kent State professor: Ariel Castro used information control to hold power over missing women

Kent State sociology professor studies kidnappings

KENT, Ohio - A Kent State University professor said he believes the Cleveland man who allegedly held three women hostage for a decade used information control to hold power over the young victims.

Dr. Jerry Lewis, a sociology professor, said he doesn't feel the term "brainwashing" applies because that implies cleaning out the brain and replacing it with a whole new system.

"Brainwashing means that you just eliminate who you were and it's quite clear that didn't happen to some of the girls," Lewis said.

He used Amanda Berry's dramatic 911 call to police as an example. She clearly stated that she had been missing for 10 years and had been on the news. She knew who she was and what happened to her.

Lewis said he believes the suspect, Ariel Castro, 52, likely created a reward and punishment system, and strengthened his hold over the women through information control.

"Castro controlled the information flowing in. Plus, he probably distorted any information that did come in, that their parents didn't love them. Their parents don't deserve them," he said.

Lewis, who has studied kidnappings extensively and teaches about cults, said Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight probably formed a three-person community, and their limited socialization, along with their young ages, may have kept their hopes alive.

"One of the things I'm worried about is that the three girls probably created a community among themselves... I think there should be continual contact between the three young women," Lewis said.

The professor said the victims will have to learn how to re-socialize themselves and it will be very important to reestablish ties with family, friends and their church.

"They should go back and recapture what they lost by reading a paper, looking at yearbooks and talking to old friends. They need to rebuild community."

Police have said the women were tied up with ropes and chains at times. Dr. Lewis said it will take time for them to overcome their former world of isolation and distorted information.

"They'll never the the same. People who have gone through these traumatic experiences always remember them," Lewis said.

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