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Cleveland kidnapping victim appears at music festival

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - One of the three women starved, beaten and sexually assaulted for years after being kidnapped by former Ohio school bus driver Ariel Castro made a surprise public appearance on Saturday at a concert in Cleveland.

Amanda Berry, along with Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, was freed from Castro's home in a rundown area of Cleveland on May 6. The women began disappearing in 2002 and had been bound in chains and ropes during their confinement, authorities said.

Smiling and wearing a black t-shirt, jeans and sunglasses, the 27-year-old Berry received raucous applause as she walked on the stage at the RoverFest 2013 event in downtown Cleveland after being announced by local radio host Rover.

Berry pointed a finger skyward and waved and shook the hands of some of the cheering concert-goers.

"I told her she had a little bit of time to make up on the partying and you guys would help her out tonight," Rover said according to a video posted on YouTube by radio station WMMS.

Berry did not speak before exiting the stage. She was later called back by the rapper Nelly when he finished his set.

Her appearance came two days after Castro pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges of kidnapping and rape in a deal to avoid the death penalty. The move spared Berry, DeJesus, 23, and Knight, 32, from having to testify at a trial.

Castro has agreed to a sentence of life in prison without parole as part of his plea deal. His sentencing is scheduled for August 1.

(Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Paul Simao)