CLEVELAND - The three Cleveland women held captive for a decade released a video statement at midnight on Tuesday.
On May 6, Amanda Berry with the help of neighbors broke free from a Seymour Avenue house on Cleveland’s near-west side along with her 6-year-old daughter. When police arrived, they found Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight also in the house.
Since then, the women have asked for their privacy as they adjust and reconnect with their families.
[Click the video player above to watch the entire video. Mobile viewers use this link: http://ow.ly/mL5vb ]
“Amanda, Gina and Michelle wanted to say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world, now that two months have passed," said Kathy Joseph, attorney for Michelle Knight. "People are recognizing them now as they go about in public, so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages. It was their decision to relay their thanks in this way to all of the many people who have offered support to them, for which they are extremely grateful.”
"But it is important for everyone, especially the media, to understand that the three women still have a strong desire for privacy," said James Wooley, attorney for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. "They do not want to talk about their ordeal with the media or anyone else. This cannot be stated strongly enough. We thank everyone for the privacy and courtesy shown to Amanda, Gina and Michelle over the last few months and ask that this continue.”
The video was recorded on July 2 at the Jones Day Law Firm with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in the background. According to the media relations firm for the women, there will be no follow-up interviews in the near future.
The owner of the home on Seymour Avenue, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, has been charged with 329 counts, including kidnapping and rape, for August 2002 to February 2007. A superseding indictment with additional charges is expected. Castro has pleaded not guilty.
Donations to the women can be made through the Cleveland Courage Fund at clevelandfoundation.org\courage or by mail at Cleveland Courage Fund , c/o the Cleveland Foundation, 1422 Euclid Ave., Suite 1300, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.