Cleveland kidnapping victims speak publicly for first time in Youtube video

Women thank the community for support and donations

Gina DeJesus (Youtube).

The three women who were held in a Cleveland home against their will for a decade before being freed in May are speaking publicly for the first time.

Amanda Berry was freed from a Cleveland home by neighbour Charles Ramsey. Two other missing women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were also located inside the home.

The women, who have been out of the public spotlight since they were rescued, posted a Youtube video late Monday, in which they thanked their families and the community for its support, including financial donations that have been made in their names.

“I will not let the situation define who I am,” said Knight, who read from a prepared statement. “Thank you for all your prayers. I’m looking forward to my new life.”

DeJesus’ parents, Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz, also appeared in the video, telling parents of missing children to count on their neighbours and to ask for help.

Ariel Castro, 52, has entered a not-guilty plea to more than 300 charges, including rape, gross sexual imposition, assault and aggravated murder. The latter charge relates to an allegation that Castro terminated the pregnancy of one of his victims.

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