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Ohio governor honors imprisoned Cleveland women

By JULIE CARR SMYTH and ANN SANNER - Feb. 24, 2014 8:58 PM EST

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) - The three women who survived a decade-long captivity in a Cleveland house before being freed received Gov. John Kasich's annual courage awards on Monday night.

Kasich called the women's story one of hurt beyond imagination, but also a story that didn't end there.

"It is also a story of three women who found an inner strength and a courage that brought them through and sustained them," Kasich said near the end of his annual State of the State speech. "No one rescued them, they rescued themselves_first by staying strong and by sticking together, and then by literally breaking out into freedom."

The women were freed when one of them pushed her way through a door and sought help.

The presentation nearly overshadowed Kasich's speech given the women's popularity since their release. They were household names in Cleveland for years as missing persons, and their discovery electrified a community accustomed to bleaker outcomes.

Kasich hugged the women as he entered the hall before his speech and pictures of that moment quickly flew across cyberspace.

As he announced the awards, Kasich called them "three extraordinary women, who despite having the worst in this world thrown at them, rose above it and emerged not as victims, but as victors."

The women - Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight - walked onto the stage to be embraced by the governor and receive their medals. The audience stood and cheered for more than two minutes, the longest ovation of the night. It was a rare case of the trio being together following their rescue.

"Is that just unbelievable," a clearly moved Kasich said to GOP House Speaker William Batchelder and GOP Senate President Keith Faber, who were also on stage. "Wow."

The women were rescued in May after being kidnapped by Ariel Castro from the streets of Cleveland between 2002 and 2004 at the ages of 14, 16 and 20.

Castro periodically kept them chained in rooms, sometimes in the basement, and restricted access to food and toilets. He fathered a girl with one of the victims.

Castro pleaded guilty in August to hundreds of charges. He told a judge at sentencing that he suffered from addictions to sex and pornography. "I'm not a monster. I'm sick," he said.

A month later, on Sept. 3, the 53-year-old Castro hanged himself in prison at the beginning of a life sentence plus 1,000 years.

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Marie McClusky February 25 2014 at 4:47 PM

Amazing women - May God bless them richly with a like of happiness, love and peace

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Marie McClusky February 25 2014 at 4:48 PM

That should have read Richly with a Life of happiness, love and peace - sorry for the typo

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moonsongnui February 25 2014 at 4:08 PM

I'm a bit confused here, thought this editorial was about three women that suffered atrosities, not how much you can make in an hour on the computer!!!!! This survival and release was truly a miracle, for this we should be praising these women and a higher being for making it happen. Carry on girls, there are only good things in your lives to come!!!

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Rose February 25 2014 at 4:03 PM

I am just so proud of those young ladies I don't think I would have done that well

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ae12wrangell February 25 2014 at 4:03 PM

I have no idea what those 3 women went through psychologically. Oh sure we read about the exploits in the newspaper, but each woman was a wreck. She had to, eventually, come to terms that she had been imprisoned, raped, tortured on an average of 11 years. Castro was no sweetheart. Why do you think he got 3,000+ years in jail? But, being the coward he was, he chose the easy way - suicide. The other inmates were just sharpening thier knives and what not and were about to kill him(I think)

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cherishedpearls February 25 2014 at 4:01 PM

This is why i had to get the hell out of OHIO, they are all insane. As I remember someone did assist the ladies in being freed. Why is his bravery being diminished by an ignorant governor . Many times these ladies screams went ignored but this time a man had the courage to help. Before people get hot under the color, The women are survivors and good for them for fighting for their lives. But does that mean a strangers help should go ignored by some racist governor from the stinky state of OHIO.

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Howeird February 25 2014 at 3:45 PM

a good kick in the groin would have allowed them to kill the SOB. We call it rhe" Mexican uppercut"

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rose February 25 2014 at 3:39 PM

Is is such a blessing to see God work in situations where He allows "US" to do HIS work through Jesus Christ to be a blessing to ourselves and each other. This is a perfect example of three women who bypassed their differences to reach way down for the innerstrength within them then focusing on the issue that was in fromt of them...

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clancey7695 February 25 2014 at 5:59 PM

I just wonder where was God for 11 years

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patriot1too February 25 2014 at 3:21 PM

We are suprised that the obama mess did not try to pardon the castro fellow on some code word equality, tolerance nonsense like he has on every other devient behavior. Glad the girls got honors though they suffered needlessly from that twisted minded liberal castro.

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rdh32khll February 25 2014 at 3:09 PM

It is hard to believe that 3 people could be kept that long without an opportunity to escape.

They were in a house.........in a neighborhood, not a jail.

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jaza26 February 25 2014 at 3:20 PM


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jeaninecornog February 25 2014 at 3:34 PM

maybe we should lr\et you so us wemen how its done *******

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frozenbull February 25 2014 at 3:02 PM

Monster or sick . Prison's to good for him. Who comes up with this plus 1000 years. Is that actually written in the law statute somewhere ? I don't know how these three girls made it . It amazing to say the least .

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jeaninecornog February 25 2014 at 3:35 PM


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