Rap star Nelly raised eyebrows this weekend after welcoming Cleveland kidnapping victim Amanda Berry onto a concert stage for her first public appearance.
According to reports, the memorable moment went down Saturday (July 27).
The day after her captor was sentenced to life and 1,000 years in prison, Amanda Berry made her first appearance at a public event. Rapper Nelly introduced her onstage early Saturday evening during the day-long RoverFest concert at Voinovich Park. “He said, ‘Everyone, here’s Amanda Berry,’ and she came out with a friend, another young woman,” concertgoer Kayleigh Fladung said. “She didn’t say anything, but she was smiling and happy. “She waved to the crowd, everyone went crazy cheering, and she went backstage. Nelly did his set, 4 or 5 songs, and then he brought her out again and everyone cheered.” (Cleveland)
Berry previously spent the last ten years held in captivity.
Berry, 27, was kidnapped by Ariel Castro in 2003 and escaped in May with fellow captives Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. The women made public statements on video earlier this month but have not given interviews or otherwise appeared in public. Fladung said other concertgoers said Shane “Rover” French of WMMS FM/100.7 had announced the station was hoping to have Berry at the show. “It was cool to see but still very surprising,” she said. (Cleveland)
Berry’s captor will now serve the remainder of his life behind bars.
The appearance came a day after Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, pleaded guilty to 937 counts in a deal that will send him to prison for life without parole, plus 1,000 years. Berry, now 27, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight disappeared between 2002 and 2004 when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. They escaped in May when Berry kicked out part of a door and called to neighbors for help. Berry told a police dispatcher in a dramatic 911 call: “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years, and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.” (ABC News)
She also was reportedly raped and had a child during the captivity.
Castro, 53, who was arrested and jailed shortly afterward, was accused of raping and beating the three repeatedly. He also fathered a 6-year-old daughter with Berry, authorities say. The women didn’t attend the court proceeding but said in a statement that they were relieved by the conviction and looking forward to the end of the legal proceedings. (ABC News)