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Cleveland man charged with rape and kidnapping

By Thomas J. Sheeran

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 8 2013 4:10 p.m. MDT

Sandra Ruiz, aunt of Gina DeJesus, speaks to the media after Gina's homecoming,Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Cleveland. Felix, left, Gina's father smiles. The three women held captive for about a decade at a run-down Cleveland house were apparently bound with ropes and chains, police said Wednesday, while charges were expected by the end of the day against the three brothers under arrest.

Tony Dejak, Associated Press

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man arrested after three women missing for a decade were found alive at his home was charged Wednesday with kidnapping and raping them. Prosecutors brought no charges against his brothers, saying there was no evidence they had any part in the crime.

Ariel Castro, 52, was charged with four counts of kidnapping — covering all three captives and the daughter born to one of them while she was held — and three counts of rape against the three women. The former school bus driver owns the peeling, run-down home where the women were rescued on Monday, after one of them broke through a screen door.

At a news conference, authorities gave few details on the women's ordeal. But police said earlier in the day that they were apparently bound with ropes and chains, and a city councilman briefed on the case, Brian Cummins, said that they were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages.

Cummins also said the women were kept in the basement for some time.

"We know that the victims have confirmed miscarriages, but with who, how many and what conditions we don't know," he said. He added: "It sounds pretty gruesome."

Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said a paternity test on Castro was being done to establish who fathered the now 6-year-old child of captive Amanda Berry.

Castro was in custody and couldn't be reached for comment. A brother-in-law has said the family was "shocked" after hearing about the women at the home.

Castro's brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were also arrested after the women were rescued, but there was no evidence they had any part in the crime, and no charges were brought against them, Cleveland Prosecutor Victor Perez said.

Two of the young women, meanwhile, were welcomed home by jubilant crowds of loved ones and neighbors with balloons and banners Wednesday. The families of Berry and Gina DeJesus protectively took them inside, past hundreds of reporters and onlookers. Neither woman spoke, and their families pleaded for patience and time alone.

"Give us time and privacy to heal," said Sandra Ruiz, DeJesus' aunt. Ruiz thanked police for rescuing the women and urged the public not to retaliate against the suspects or their families.

The third captive, Michelle Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center, which a day earlier had reported that all three victims had been released. There was no immediate explanation from the hospital.

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearance.

In a development that astonished and exhilarated much of Cleveland, the three women were rescued after Berry, 27, broke through a screen door at the Castro house and told a 911 dispatcher: "Help me. I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now."

Law enforcement officials left many questions unanswered, including how the women were taken captive and who fathered Berry's 6-year-old daughter.

Neighbors said that Ariel Castro took part in the search for one of the missing women, helped pass out fliers, performed music at a fundraiser for her and attended a candlelight vigil, where her comforted her mother. As recently as 2005, Castro was accused of repeated acts of violence against his children's mother.

On NBC's "Today" show, Police Chief Michael McGrath said he was "absolutely" sure police did everything they could to find the women over the years. He disputed claims by neighbors that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances.

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