Cleveland kidnapping survivors speak out in YouTube video - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Cleveland kidnapping survivors speak out in YouTube video

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By Mark Stevenson, Staff Writer, NBC News

Three Cleveland women who escaped in May after about a decade of captivity appeared in a video posted to YouTube thanking people for their help.

Each of the trio -- Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight -- makes a statement in the video, posted for them by a Cleveland PR firm.

"First and foremost, I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family and my friends," Berry says. "It's been unbelievable. I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us -- it's been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness."

Michelle Knight broke her public silence in a video posted on YouTube.

After also thanking "everyone for your love, support and donations," Knight strikes a defiant and upbeat tone. 

"I just want everyone to know that I'm doing just fine," she said. "I may have been through hell and back but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high."

"I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation," Knight adds.

DeJesus also paid tribute those who have contributed to the Cleveland Courage Fund, which was set up to help the three make the transition from captivity to independence. 

"Thank you for your support," she added.  Her father, Felix DeJesus, echoed her statement.

Ariel Castro, 52, has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment in the case that includes multiple kidnapping and rape charges. He's being held on an $8 million bond.

Authorities accuse him of kidnapping the women between 2002 and 2004 when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. A trial is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 5.

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