Ohio kidnapping survivors say they're thriving a year later

Amanda Berry, from left, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in February at the Performing Arts Center in Medina, Ohio. The three women held captive in a Cleveland house before escaping a year ago have spent their first year of freedom learning to drive, taking boxing lessons and cherishing time with their families.

Associated Press

Amanda Berry, from left, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in February at the Performing Arts Center in Medina, Ohio. The three women held captive in a Cleveland house before escaping a year ago have spent their first year of freedom learning to drive, taking boxing lessons and cherishing time with their families.

CLEVELAND — The three women held captive in a Cleveland house before escaping a year ago Tuesday have spent their first year of freedom in nearly a decade learning to drive, taking boxing lessons and cherishing time with their families.

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus said in statements released Monday that they are thankful and growing in many ways.

Michelle Knight said on NBC's Today show Monday she forgives the man who kidnapped and tortured her. Ariel Castro deserves forgiveness because she'd want to be forgiven if she did wrong, and "that's the way of life," she said.

Tuesday is the anniversary of the escape from the house by Knight, Berry and DeJesus. Knight, 33, said she doesn't see much of the other two women, saying "we're all now living in our own way."

DeJesus said she's enjoying learning how to drive and use new technology. "I am spending time with my family and working with Amanda on a book that we are really excited about," she said.

Berry said the future is bright for her and thanked her family and friends for support.

"On this day, we decided that the right place for us to be was with other families who have gone through what our family has gone through," she said. "I want these families to know they will always have a special place in our hearts."

Knight — who has a book coming out Tuesday — said she's a singer who just recorded a song, and she's also training to be a boxer.

Knight said in the interview that she was surprised when Castro, who pleaded guilty in August, killed himself in prison, wondering "why would he hurt his children like that?"

The three all hoped their captor would plead guilty to avoid a trial, according to documents released by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office on Monday.

Castro pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges last year and committed suicide in prison after beginning a life sentence.

Berry was 16, DeJesus, 14, and Knight, 20, when they disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004. They were rescued after Berry broke through a screen door.

Ohio kidnapping survivors say they're thriving a year later 05/05/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2014 9:37pm]

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