Cleveland Kidnap Victims' Video Says 'Thank You' for Support

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 07:13 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A video of the three kidnap victims who were held captive in a Cleveland basement for nearly a decade was posted Tuesday on YouTube to express their thanks for the support they've received since their release in May.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were freed May 6 after a neighbor heard Berry's screams and came to her aid.

Now, the women are speaking out on camera for the first time publicly.

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"People are recognizing them now as they go about in public, so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages," Kathy Joseph, one of Knight's attorneys, said in a statement. "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."

In the clip, Berry and Knight appear separately and give brief statements, while DeJesus responds to questions. Her father, Felix DeJesus, and mother, Nancy Ruiz, also speak on camera.

"First and foremost, I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family, my friends," Berry says in the video. "It's been unbelievable. I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness. I am getting stronger each day and having my privacy has helped immensely."

Privacy is important as they try and heal, James Wooley, an attorney for Berry and DeJesus, told ABC News.

"It is important for everyone, especially the media, to understand that the three women still have a strong desire for privacy," he said. "They do not want to talk about their ordeal with the media or anyone else. This cannot be stated strongly enough."

Ariel Castro, 52, was arrested and pleaded not guilty last month to a 329-count indictment, which included rape and kidnapping charges. He is accused of individually abducting Berry, DeJesus, and Knight between 2002 and 2004 and keeping them restrained in his dungeon-like basement for nearly a decade, raping them, causing them to have abortions by punching them in their stomachs, and forcing one woman to give birth in a kiddie pool.

A judge last week found Castro competent to stand trial and denied him visitation rights to the 6-year-old daughter he is accused of fathering with Amanda Berry. Jury selection for Castro's trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 5.

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Related stories:

Brothers of Cleveland Kidnapping Suspect: Let Him Rot in Jail

'I Am A Sexual Predator' Said Ariel Castro in Cleveland Suicide Note

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