The miraculous rescue of three kidnapped women in Cleveland on Monday has attracted worldwide attention, but it also spotlights a more everyday tragedy — the estimated 1,000 Ohio children entrapped by the sex trade.
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The rescue in Cleveland of three women long believed to be dead captivated the nation and brought hope to those whose own loved ones have disappeared. Here is a recap of the extraordinary week:
Monday: With the words, “Help me, I’m Amanda Berry,” came the break in a case that many thought would never happen. Berry’s screams alerted neighbor Charles Ramsey, who helped Berry escape through the front door of the house where she had been held captive for more than 10 years, along with two other women: Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. All three, along with Berry’s six-year-old daughter, are rescued. The owner of the house, Ariel Castro, and two brothers, Onil and Pedro Castro, are arrested.
Tuesday: Media from around the world descend on the working class neighborhood on Cleveland’s lower west side. Ramsey’s actions and colorful descriptions of the events give him hero status, and they are replayed over and over again on news stations and web sites. The sound bites, assembled into song lyrics, are quickly posted on the web. An outpouring of sympathy and wonderment accompanies the story, which dominates the news cycle.
Wednesday: Two of the three women – Berry and DeJesus return to their respective homes, which are decorated by well-wishers with signs, balloons and gifts. Knight remains hospitalized. Police announce that charges of kidnapping and rape have been filed against Ariel Castro, but that Onil and Pedro Castro will not be charged in connection with the crimes against the women. Family members of Castro go before the media near his Seymour Avenue home and express sympathy for the victims. “We’re so sorry for everything you’ve suffered,” Maria Castro-Montes, a cousin of Ariel Castro, says to the victims and their families. “I’m a mom. I can’t even imagine.” More details emerge about the women’s captivity, including that the women were bound with ropes and chains and kept in separate rooms. Police obtain a search warrant for Ariel Castro’s DNA for the purpose of a paternity test to determine if he is the father of Berry’s child.
Thursday: An $8 million bond is set for Ariel Castro, as he appears in court for the first time, keeping his head down for much of the proceeding. Assistant City Prosecutor Brian Murphy says Castro held the women for years “for his own sick self-gratification.” Prosecutors say he could face additional charges. More details emerge, including that Berry’s baby was born in a plastic tub or pool. Reports say Castro forced Knight to help deliver the baby girl and threatened to kill her if she did not survive.
Friday: The Ohio Attorney General’s Office announced that DNA tests confirmed that Castro is the father of the 6-year-old girl born to Berry during her captivity. Castro’s DNA did not match that from any other open Ohio case, according to the attorney general’s spokesman, Dan Tierney, who said that national results are pending through the FBI. Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center announced that Michelle Knight had left the hospital. Berry and DeJesus were released days ago and went home with with relatives. “Michelle Knight is in good spirits and would like the community to know that she is extremely grateful for the outpouring of flowers and gifts,” the hospital said in a Facebook posting.
Saturday: The women began hiring lawyers to deal with the expected large amount of donations to a charitable fund set up for their recovery. The lawyers will become a primary point of contact for the victims as money comes in so the focus can remain on their needs and the integrity of the donation process is ensured. The women are entitled to up to $50,000 from the state crime victim compensation fund, which covers a variety of medical, rehabilitation and transportation costs associated with their recovery, said Lisa Peterson Hackley, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The office also has an attorney working with people setting up charitable funds for the women and child to ensure they’re properly created.
The Dayton Daily News had reporters in Cleveland all week to bring the latest developments in the rescue of the three women and child from a house in Cleveland. Reporters examined police records, court reports and interviewed family members, neighbors and law enforcement officials in an attempt to uncover relevant information sought by our readers.
Signs of Human Trafficking
- Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp or manager.
- Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips.
- Works excessively long or unusual hours.
- Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work.
- Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his work.
- High security measures exist in the work or living locations, such as opaque windows, boarded-up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, or security cameras.
- Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement.
- Avoids eye contact.
- Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture.
- Has few or no personal possessions.
- Is not in control of his own money, or has no financial records, or bank account.
- Is not in control of his own identification documents (ID or passport).
- Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present or translating).
- Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he is staying.
- Lack of knowledge of what city he is in.
- Has numerous inconsistencies in his story.
Source: the Polaris Project (www.polarisproject.org)
How to help
If you suspect human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.