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Women in US kidnap case thank public for support

July 9, 2013

CLEVELAND (AP) — The three women allegedly held captive in a U.S. home for a decade were stylish and smiling as they offered thanks in a YouTube video for the emotional and financial support they’ve received since going “through hell and back.”

And from Michelle Knight, 32, who wasn’t a familiar face on a milk carton around town like the other two, came a sometimes halting yet defiant reading of a statement.

“I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high,” said Michelle Knight, 32.

The video was posted at midnight Monday.

Knight, 27-year-old Amanda Berry and 23-year-old Gina DeJesus have appealed for privacy since they were rescued in May when Berry broke through a door and yelled to neighbors for help.

The women had disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16, and 20 years old. The owner of the home where they were found, 52-year-old former bus driver Ariel Castro, was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to an indictment alleging he kidnapped them off the streets and held them captive.

In the video, none of the women had any visible scars of the abuse they said they suffered. Castro fathered a 6-year-old daughter with Berry and is accused of starving and punching Knight, causing her to miscarry.

“I am getting stronger each day,” Berry said. “Having my privacy has helped immensely.”

Castro’s trial is scheduled for next month, but that could be delayed if the defense asks for more preparation time. Last week a judge rejected Castro’s request to see Berry’s child.

Castro’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the video and on whether they were concerned it might bias jurors.

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