Cleveland hero Charles Ramsey is a convicted wife beater

Charles Ramsey says don’t give him any reward money, he has a job. Give it to the victims. Photo: Charles Ramsey talks to the press. AP photo

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2013 — In one of those ironies that only life can provide, Cleveland hero Charles Ramsey, who rescued Amanda Berry and helped save the other two young women held captive, was himself arrested, convicted and served jail time in 2003 for beating up his own wife.

Ramsey, 43, who has become a media sensation after his colorful television interviews (see below), said he had heard Amanda Berry screaming for help while trying to pry open the front door to escape with her six year old daughter from what is now called the House of Horrors.

Ramsey who had just returned from work heard the screams coming his neighbor Ariel Castro’s home on Monday and said, “I figured it’s a domestic violence dispute.” So he ran to help Berry because he “was raised to help women in distress.”

House of Horrors door from which Amanda Berry escaped with Charles Ramsey’s help. AP photo


Tell that to Rochelle Ramsey, his former wife who divorced him after he battered her for the third time. The 6’ 2”, 230-pound Ramsey served his prison sentence in Lorain Correctional Institution, where he had previously served two separate one-year terms in the early 1990s for criminal trespass, drug abuse and receiving stolen property.

Already talk of reward money for Ramsey is pouring in with at least $25,000 reward money from unknown sources, the FBI, and fundraisers. However, Ramsey told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that any reward money should go to the victims: “I tell you what you do, give it to them [the three young women].” He explained that he is a Christian and was only doing what he was supposed to do. Besides, he added, he has a job and doesn’t need the money. He washes dishes at a local restaurant.

But on Monday, probably without even realizing it at the time, Ramsey in a sense had already begun to atone for battering his own wife. When he heard the scream for help, he dropped the McDonald’s burger he was munching on while sitting on his front porch and dashed to the young woman’s help. Berry had broken through the front porch door of her prison with one hand, screaming hysterically. As Ramsey described it to reporters, it had sounded like someone screaming that a car had hit her child.

Ramsey with the help of neighbors freed Berry by kicking out the door’s bottom panel and Berry and her little girl climbed through to freedom. Berry told them that Castro and his two brothers were at McDonald’s and would be back any minute.

Wearing only pajamas and old slippers, she fled across the street to another neighbor, where she called a 911 operator: “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.”

The police swarmed the house, locating the other two abductees, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, in upstairs bedrooms. Like Berry they had been kidnapped from the neighborhood more than ten years ago. Berry and DeJesus have been reunited with their families while Knight who complained of chest pains at the time of the rescue is still in the hospital.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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