Councilman: Cleveland victims were sexually abused
CLEVELAND — The three women held captive for a decade at a run-down Cleveland house were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages, a city councilman briefed on the case said Wednesday.
Councilman Brian Cummins said that many details remain unclear, including the number of pregnancies and the conditions under which the miscarriages occurred. He also said the women were kept in the basement for some time without having access to the rest of the house. Police said they were apparently bound with ropes and chains.
The horrific allegations came out as police built a case against the three brothers under arrest: Ariel Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver and owner of the house, Onil Castro, 50, and Pedro Castro, 54. Charges against them were expected to by late Wednesday afternoon.
“We know that the victims have confirmed miscarriages, but with who, how many and what conditions we don't know,” Cummins said. He added: “It sounds pretty gruesome.”
Two of the young women, meanwhile, were welcomed home by jubilant crowds of loved ones and neighbors with balloons and banners Wednesday. The families of Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry protectively took them inside, past hundreds of reporters and onlookers. Neither woman spoke, and their families pleaded for patience and time alone.
“Give us time and privacy to heal,” said Sandra Ruiz, DeJesus' aunt. Ruiz thanked police for rescuing the women and urged the public not to retaliate against the suspects or their families.
The third captive, Michelle Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center, which a day earlier had reported that all three victims had been released. There was no immediate explanation from the hospital.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearance.
In a development that astonished and exhilarated much of Cleveland, the three women were rescued on Monday after Berry, 27, broke through a screen door at the Castro house and told a 911 dispatcher: “Help me. I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now.”
Law enforcement officials left many questions unanswered, including how the women were taken captive and who fathered Berry's 6-year-old daughter.
Neighbors said that Ariel Castro took part in the search for one of the missing women, helped pass out fliers, performed music at a fundraiser for her and attended a candlelight vigil, where her comforted her mother. As recently as 2005, Castro was accused of repeated acts of violence against his children's mother.
On NBC's “Today” show, Police Chief Michael McGrath said he was “absolutely” sure police did everything they could to find the women over the years. He disputed claims by neighbors that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances.
“We have no record of those calls coming in over the past 10 years,” McGrath said. On Tuesday, some neighbors said that they had told police years ago about hearing pounding on the doors of the home and seeing a naked woman crawling in the yard.
DeJesus, who disappeared in 2004 and is in her early 20s, arrived home in the afternoon Wednesday to chants of “Gina! Gina!” Wearing a bright yellow hooded sweatshirt, she was led through the crowd and into the house by a woman who put her arm around the young woman's shoulders and held her tight.
Her father pumped his fist after arriving home with his daughter, and he urged people across the country to watch over the children in their neighborhoods - including other people's kids.
“Too many kids these days come up missing, and we always ask this question: How come I didn't see what happened to that kid? Why? Because we chose not to,” he said
Berry arrived at her sister's home, which was similarly festooned with dozens of colorful balloons and signs, one reading “We Never Lost Hope Mandy.” Hundreds cheered wildly but weren't able to get a glimpse of Berry as she went in through the back.
A 2005 domestic-violence filing in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court accused Ariel Castro of twice breaking the nose of his children's mother, knocking out a tooth, dislocating each shoulder and threatening to kill her and her daughters three or four times in a year.
The filing for a protective order by Grimilda Figueroa also said that Castro frequently abducted her daughters and kept them from her.
In 1993, Castro was arrested on a domestic-violence charge and spent three days in jail before he was released on bail. A grand jury did not return an indictment against him, according to court documents, which don't detail the allegations. It was unclear who brought the charge.
Meanwhile, the aunt of a 14-year-old girl who disappeared in 2007 near the house where the missing women were found said the girl's mother has spoken with the FBI.
“We're hoping for our miracle, too,” said Debra Summers, who described her niece, Ashley Summers, as not the type of girl who would leave without coming back.
The FBI did not immediately return a call about the case and whether it was connected to that of the three missing women.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Connellsville gets spring scouring
- Connellsville-region grads to converge for Golden Reunion
- Braddock man charged in fatal stabbing
- Henry: Job and education fair slated for Wednesday in Connellsville
- Boy, 15, charged with firing shots in Brighton Heights
- Veterans charity to receive funds
- NASA head tells Pitt grads their generation will ‘walk the face of Mars’
- Allegheny Valley board candidates hold Colfax Elementary fate
- Behind starter Liriano, Pirates complete sweep of Diamondbacks
- Man in critical condition after Manchester shooting
- Armstrong County Sports Hall of Fame inductees share lessons of athletics