Gina DeJesus was the youngest of the three woman held captive by convicted rapist Ariel Castro. She did not attend his sentencing on Thursday but a statement released by a family friend was released on her behalf.
Gina was held captive by Castro for nine years, having been abducted by him when she was just 14 years old. She was on her way home from school in April 2004 when she was snatched by Castro.
As well as being severely mentally affected by the abuse she suffered during her captivity Gina DeJesus also has physical scars to remind her of her ordeal. Since she was chained to the wall, in an awkward position for months on end, she suffers from a painful fused neck condition.
Here is Gina’s statement, which was read by her cousin and official spokeswoman Sylvia Colon:
“My name is Sylvia Colon and I am a cousin and spokesperson for the DeJesus family. We have enjoyed our low-key lives and pray we can continue to savor our privacy.
On behalf of my entire family, we would like to thank the Honorable Judge Michael Russo, Office of Prosecutor Timothy McGinty and staff, as well as the defense team for the accelerated resolution to the Castro case. Today we will close this chapter of our lives.
Family members — we love you. To our friends, neighbors, FBI, Cleveland Police, Attorney Henry Hilow and our attorneys at Jones Day, the great City of Cleveland and too many others to name — thank you and God bless you. For nine long years you have been by our sides, encouraging and supporting us. We shall never forget you. You are now a part of our family.
To Ariel Castro’s family — we are saddened that you are burdened with this horror and will unfortunately forever be tied to these atrocities. Please know that we do not hold you accountable and pray that you can one day be whole again. Continue to love and support one another — we promise you that with this recipe you will be triumphant.
Our family recognizes it is not for us to judge or determine any punishment. Only a higher power can do that.
Today is the last day we want to think or talk about this. These events will not own a place in our thoughts or our hearts. We will continue to live and love.
We stand before you and promise you that our beloved family member thrives. She laughs, swims, dances, and more importantly she loves and is loved. We are comforted in knowing that she will continue to flourish. She will finish school, go to college, fall in love, and if she chooses, will get married and have children. She is where we will continue to put in our energy. She lives not a victim, but as a survivor. Her insurmountable will to prevail is the only story worth discussing.
We ask that you continue to give her and our family privacy as we continue this journey back into society.
To Ariel Castro — Que Dios se apiade de su alma.” (May God have mercy on your soul)
What do you feel about Gina DeJesus’s statement? Do you think she can ever lead a normal life after the ordeal she went through for so many years? Share your comments in the feed below.