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Kidnap, rape charges for ex-bus driver in missing women case

CLEVELAND -- A man arrested after three women missing for a decade were found alive at his run-down home was charged Wednesday with kidnapping and raping them. Prosecutors brought no charges against his brothers, saying there was no evidence they had any part in the crime.

Ariel Castro, 52, was charged with four counts of kidnapping -- covering all three captives and the daughter born to one of them while she was held -- and three counts of committing rape against the three women.

The former school bus driver owns the peeling home where the women were rescued on Monday, after one broke through a screen door while Castro apparently was away.

At a news conference, authorities gave few details on the women's ordeal. But police said earlier in the day that they were apparently bound with ropes and chains. A city councilman briefed on the case, Brian Cummins, said that they were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and had suffered miscarriages.

"We know that the victims have confirmed miscarriages, but with who, how many and what conditions we don't know," Cummins said. He added: "It sounds pretty gruesome."

Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said the women could remember being outside only twice during their entire time in captivity. "We were told they left the house and went into the garage in disguise," he said.

Their first opportunity to escape didn't come until Monday, he said. The women were not kept in the same room, but knew they were not alone, he said.

He also said a paternity test on Castro was being done to establish who fathered the now 6-year-old child of captive Amanda Berry.

Castro's brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were also arrested after the women were rescued, but there was no evidence they had any part in the crime, Cleveland Prosecutor Victor Perez said.

Earlier in the day, Berry and former captive Gina DeJesus were welcomed home by jubilant crowds of loved ones and neighbors with balloons and banners.

Family members protectively took them inside, past hundreds of reporters and onlookers. Neither woman spoke.

DeJesus, who is in her early 20s, wore a bright yellow hooded sweatshirt as she was led through the crowd and into the house by a woman who put her arm around the young woman's shoulders and held her tight.

Her father pumped his fist after arriving home with his daughter, and he urged people across the country to watch over the children in their neighborhoods -- including other people's kids.

"Too many kids these days come up missing, and we always ask this question: How come I didn't see what happened to that kid? Why? Because we chose not to," he said.

Berry arrived at her sister's home, which was similarly festooned with dozens of colorful balloons and signs, one reading "We Never Lost Hope Mandy."

Hundreds cheered wildly but weren't able to get a glimpse of Berry as she went in through the back.

The third captive, Michelle Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center, which a day earlier had reported that all three victims had been released. There was no immediate explanation from the hospital.

On NBC's "Today" show, Police Chief Michael McGrath said he was "absolutely" sure police did everything they could to find the women over the years. He disputed claims by neighbors that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances.

"We have no record of those calls coming in over the past 10 years," McGrath said.

In 2005, a domestic-violence filing, seeking an order of protection, accused Ariel Castro of twice breaking the nose of his children's mother, among other injuries, and threatening to kill her and her daughters three or four times in a year.

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