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Cleveland kidnappings: Was Ariel Castro record of abuse a red flag? (+video)

What if Ariel Castro’s past record of domestic violence had resulted in legal action? Could it have led authorities to discover that he was holding three women in his house? Could it have prevented the kidnappings?

Ariel Castro: A history of abuse
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What if Ariel Castro’s past record of alleged domestic violence had resulted in legal action against him?

Could it have led authorities to discover sooner that the Cleveland man was holding three kidnapped women in his house? Could it have even prevented the kidnappings?

Those questions are emerging after details have surfaced that the Ohio kidnapping suspect had several run-ins with the law regarding alleged domestic violence.

The incidents involved the woman, Grimilda Figueroa, with whom Mr. Castro fathered four children.

Now Castro has been arrested and stands accused of kidnapping and abusing three other women and keeping them locked in his house since 2002, 2003, and 2004 respectively.

The Reuters news agency reported Saturday that Ms. Figueroa’s accusations against Castro began as early as 1989 and spanned through 2005. The most recent case involved a request by her for a court order of protection.

The effort by Figueroa raises that “what if” question.

“If he had violated the order he could have been investigated by police and possibly arrested,” the Reuters report said. “That could have been an opportunity to find the women he allegedly held captive, or it could have made things worse if they had been abandoned without him and unable to leave the house.”

But the story of the tension-filled relationship between Figueroa and Castro is also a reminder of how difficult it can be to make charges of domestic violence stick, or to win such court orders of protection against potential abuse.

More than once, Figueroa backed off in her legal efforts. That’s a common challenge when it comes to holding batterers accountable, experts in domestic violence say.

Michael Dvorak, the prosecuting attorney for St. Joseph, County, Ind., is one of many who have publicized the problem.

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