July 3, 2020

Cleveland, Ohio women ‘repeatedly raped by captors’


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_67483119_de38  BBC

At least two of the women held captive in an Ohio house for about a decade were raped by their captors, a source close to the case has told the BBC.

One woman was forced to help Amanda Berry give birth and was threatened with death if the baby died, the source said as two of the women returned home.

Cleveland’s police chief has said the women were held with ropes and chains.

Former school bus driver Ariel Castro, 52, has been arrested along with his two brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50.

Ariel Castro owns the home where the three women were found.

The source told the BBC one of the women became pregnant many times and had multiple miscarriages.

Another woman became pregnant and was so badly beaten she lost the baby, the source added.

Ariel Castro (centre in attached photo)) was often seen in the area, socialising with neighbours.

The source also said the woman who assisted Ms Berry deliver her six-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, had been threatened with death if the child did not survive.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered around the DeJesus family home, cheering as 23-year-old Gina DeJesus arrive_67488705_castro_combod.

Ms Berry, 27, arrived at her sister’s home shortly before midday on Wednesday, along with her six-year-old daughter Jocelyn, apparently conceived and born in captivity.

Police Chief Michael McGrath said Ms Berry, Ms DeJesus and the third victim, Michelle Knight, 32, were in good condition “considering the circumstances”, in an interview with US broadcaster NBC.

Chief McGrath added that while in captivity, the women were sometimes allowed outside in the garden.

Ariel Castro is accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing the three women; his brothers are accused of complicity in the same offences, according to arrest documents.

The police chief said investigators were interviewing the Castro brothers, and they were talking.

Charges against the three suspects may be announced later.

Cleveland kids react to missing girls’ escape from house

Chief McGrath disputed claims by neighbours that police did not fully investigate reports of suspicious activity at 2207 Seymour Avenue, which is in a working-class, mostly Puerto Rican district.

Ms Berry, who disappeared in 2003 aged 16, escaped on Monday with the help of a neighbour who heard her screaming and kicking a door while her alleged captor was out of the house.

When police arrived they also found Ms DeJesus, 23, and Ms Knight, 32, in the house. Ms DeJesus had gone missing aged 14 in 2004, while Ms Knight had disappeared in 2002, aged 20.

Ariel Castro reportedly fled the neighbourhood and was arrested at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, according to local media. It is unclear when his brothers were detained.

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