By Carlo Wolff/JNS.org
(Cleveland Jewish News) Hennes Paynter Communications, a firm co-owned
by a Jewish resident of Cleveland, has been tapped to handle public relations
for the victims of the Cleveland kidnappings that have become a global news sensation.
Click photo to download. Caption: Bruce Hennes of Hennes Paynter Communications, which is representing the victims of the Cleveland kidnappings that have become a global news sensation.
Amanda Berry, Gina
DeJesus and Michelle Knight on May 6 broke free of Ariel Castro’s house after
nine to 11 years of captivity.
Bruce Hennes, a Cleveland Heights resident who is Jewish, is co-owner of the Hennes
Paynter Communications company with Barbara Paynter. On May 10, Jones Day, the
Cleveland law firm handling the women’s cases, asked Hennes Paynter whether it
would take care of public relations for the now-famous victims of the Cleveland
kidnappings. Hennes said May 13 he was surprised to get the call and honored to
do the job.
“The strategy right now is to give the women time and to preserve the integrity
of the court case,” said Hennes, a former president of the Cleveland Jewish News Board of Directors.
“Right now, there is no other strategy,” he said. “That’s why the women are not
speaking publicly. At this point, our only role is to compile a list of media
people who are interested in interviewing them. We’re getting whatever requests
there might be and aggregating all of those. At the appropriate time, the women
will make their own decisions about whom they want to talk to and when.”
Hennes said he has
not spoken to the women, adding “our main contact is through the law firm.”
Hennes’s firm has been fielding requests from all over the world, he said,
citing all the domestic networks, including Spanish-language channel Telemundo, as well as Radio Australia and “everybody in
“We’re on lockdown,” he said. “It’s very important that nothing be said that
will jeopardize the ongoing investigation and the prosecution of Mr. Castro.
“We were floored to get the call, and when we were asked to do this pro bono,
the answer was, immediately, of course. We’re honored to be able to help them.
I can’t even begin to imagine what they went through.”
As for the media, “they’re looking for the ‘get’ right now” as far as the
Cleveland kidnappings story goes, Hennes said. “There’s a worldwide scramble. They
want the picture, the interview. This is the hottest news.”
Castro, 52, was arraigned on charges or rape and kidnapping on May 9. Bond was
set at $8 million. Cuyahoga County prosecutors allege he beat and sexually
assaulted all three women. They also say Castro is the father of Berry’s
Berry, 27, and DeJesus, 23, reunited with their families after brief hospital
stays, according to various news accounts. Knight’s whereabouts is cloudy,
however. According to a story in the May 12 Christian
Science Monitor, Knight, 32, didn’t even tell her mother where she was
going when she left the hospital where she was treated the night of May 10.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published by
the Cleveland Jewish News, www.clevelandjewishnews.com, and is distributed with the permission of that