Jack Tame: Failure of community taints celebrations for survivors

By Jack Tame

She had her top pulled high to cover her head and she moved in a shield of police. The crowd cheered and surged a little. Cameramen bustled and focused their lenses.

After 10 years deprived of sunshine and space, her face remained hidden to the world - this time, though, by her own choice.

Gina DeJesus lifted a hand above the crowd and for a second clenched a thumbs-up.

Four days on in Ohio, they were still celebrating in the streets.

The contrast of posters! How pertinent it was to see the pictures of smiling young faces nailed up once again.

One tree had Amanda Berry's missing poster tied to the trunk with ribbon, and with balloons and flowers at its base.

The next tree had a new poster - one that hadn't been saved from a decade ago.

Amanda Berry 10 years on. "Amanda Berry found."

It's a bizarre contrast, though, to compare the scenes in Cleveland with those that followed the arrest of Austrian man Josef Fritzl in 2008.

Fritzl imprisoned his own daughter in a homemade dungeon for 24 years, raping and abusing her, and then fathered and imprisoned three of their seven children.

His was a different case, of course - it involved incest of the most horrifying description - but the cruelty of the victim's imprisonment strikes numerous similarities with Ohio.

There were no celebrations in Austria, though. Cleveland's joy in the freedom of Ariel Castro's victims was Austria's shame in the horrors Fritzl's had endured.

For those closest to the Ohio victims, this week's joy is understandably immense. But the delight of the reunited families is shadowed by a community that, in many respects, let them down.

In 10 years, no one suspected anything at Castro's property, or at least pursued their concerns to the extent that anything was done.

Three girls abducted from the very same street, yet police were never drawn to check inside his house.

Michele Knight, who was held captive the longest, didn't even have a proper photo available from the time she disappeared.

Famine to flood: from hidden and tortured to thrust into a nation's spotlight. Like Jaycee Dugard four years ago, the Ohio survivors will no doubt soon be facing mega-buck magazine deals.

It's incredible, but Ohio's story is anything but a fairytale. It's of one man's evil. And one greater community's failure.

- Herald on Sunday

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