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Rescued Cleveland women ask for privacy

All three of the women abducted and held captive issue statements thanking the public and saying they will not give interviews.

May 12, 2013|By Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times

Three Cleveland women rescued after they were abducted and held captive for about a decade thanked the public Sunday and asked for privacy.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight issued statements that were read by a lawyer.

"Thank you so much for everything you're doing and continue to do," Berry said. "I am so happy to be home with my family."

"I'm so happy to be home and want to thank everybody for all your prayers," Gina DeJesus said. "I just want time now to be with my family."

"Thank you to everyone for your support and good wishes," said Michelle Knight, who was imprisoned the longest — 11 years. "I am healthy, happy and safe and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time."

Lawyer Jim Wooley read the statements on behalf of the women, urging the public and news media to respect their privacy. He said they would give no interviews to news outlets while the criminal case against their accused kidnapper, Ariel Castro, 52, was active, given that they were both victims and witnesses.

Castro is in custody in lieu of $8-million bail on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. The fourth kidnapping count is for a daughter born to Berry during her captivity. Police say DNA shows that Castro fathered the child.

Also Sunday, Ariel Castro's brothers, Pedro and Onil Castro, told CNN they had received death threats and become collateral damage in the case against their brother. Initially, all three were suspects, but police cleared Pedro and Onil.

"It's going to haunt me down because people going to think, yeah, Pedro got something to do with this — and Pedro don't have nothing to do with this," Pedro Castro, 54, told CNN in an interview from an undisclosed location outside Cleveland. "If I knew, I would have reported it, brother or no brother."

Onil Castro, 50, sitting alongside his brother, also expressed shock at having his name linked to the kidnappings.

"I was a very liked person — individual," Onil told CNN. "I've never had any enemies. No reason for anybody to think that I would ever do something like that. It's a shock to all my friends. They couldn't believe it."

matt.pearce@latimes.com

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