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Ariel Castro victim reparations bill gets initial approval

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the three Cleveland women who escaped in May after about a decade of captivity, released a thank-you video to show their appreciation to all the people who have offered their support.

Ohio lawmakers have given initial approval to a bill that would provide Ariel Castro's three kidnapping victims up to $25,000 for each year they were held captive, plus other benefits.

The legislation would cover anyone held in "involuntary servitude" for at least eight years, but was tailored with Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus in mind. It passed a committee vote on Wednesday and now moves to the full state House of Representatives.

If it becomes law, the women would get between $225,000 and $275,000 each, minus whatever other victims assistance they receive. They would also be entitled to free tuition and living expenses at a state college, and medical expenses.

Castro admitted he repeatedly raped and beat the women — who were snatched off the street — before they were rescued from his Cleveland home in May. He was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison.

Last month, he was found hanging by a bed sheet in his cell. 

Newly released incident reports from prison guards — who allegedly skipped rounds and falsified log books — did not answer the question of whether Castro committed suicide or accidentally died because of auto-erotic asphyxiation, as suggested by prison officials.

Corrections officer Caleb Ackley wrote that while he was making rounds about 9:20 p.m., he saw Castro hanging from a cell window, called Officer Ryan Murphy for backup and helped him lift Castro's body.

Castro's "knees were slightly bent and his shorts were around his ankles," Ackley wrote.

He and Murphy ripped the sheet from the window and performed CPR until medics arrived, the reports said. Castro was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly before 11 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.