The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

November 4, 2013

Cleveland kidnap survivor sits down with Dr. Phil

CLEVELAND — One of three women who escaped from a ramshackle Cleveland home after more than a decade in captivity is about to share her story.

Michelle Knight will appear on the “Dr. Phil” show Tuesday and Wednesday in a taped interview.

The show says Knight “describes the horrible conditions in the house” and discusses her physical, mental and sexual abuse. That includes “being tied up like a fish” and spending weeks chained and tortured in the basement, according to the show.

Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escaped May 6 when Berry pushed out a door and yelled for help.

Their kidnapper, Ariel Castro, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. He hanged himself Sept. 3.

On “Dr. Phil,” Knight will also discuss how she was able to survive her ordeal. She was 20 years old when she was kidnapped in August 2002.

“Three women were taken, three women were rescued, but only two went home,” said Phil McGraw, referring to Knight’s decision not to reunite with her family.

The Knight interview was announced earlier as three segments but was trimmed.

“Out of respect for Ms. Berry and Ms. DeJesus, she chose to speak about their shared experiences only from her own point of view,” McGraw told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in comments published Saturday.

“When you listen to her describe the horrible living conditions and how she was treated, you wonder how anyone lasted a day let alone more than a decade. In the 12 years of doing the ‘Dr. Phil’ show, no one has changed me like Michelle Knight and her story of survival.”

Knight, the only victim to appear at Castro’s sentencing, told him, “You took 11 years of my life away, but I’ve got my life back! I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning.”

McGraw said he found Knight “very bright, well-spoken and eager” to have her own voice after suffering years of abuse.

Castro was found dead in his cell just a few weeks into his sentence. A coroner ruled his death a suicide but an Ohio prisons report indicated he may have died accidentally while choking himself for a sexual thrill.

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