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Site Makes Holiday Joke About Women Held as Sex Slaves

CoolCleveland has since apologized, fired writer
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2018 3:55 PM CST
In this May 7, 2013 file photo, members of the FBI evidence response team carry out the front screen door from the Cleveland home of Ariel Castro, where three women escaped after 10 years of captivity.   (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

(Newser) – A website is apologizing after one of its writers made a very ill-advised holiday joke on Facebook. CoolCleveland, which promotes events in Cleveland, posted an announcement about an upcoming gingerbread house building event and made what appeared to be joking references to Cleveland's "House of Horrors" case in which Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus were held captive by Ariel Castro for a decade, the New York Post reports. Referencing the area's recent housing crisis and resulting empty houses, the now-deleted post said, "Many end up becoming dens for cracker addicts. In one notorious case, three missing gingerbread women were found held as gingerbread sex slaves for 10 years, while gingerbread police remained baffled … But there is a solution!" The restaurant hosting the event was unaware of the post and immediately requested it be taken down, a rep tells Cleveland.com.

CoolCleveland has since apologized in a statement in which the publisher called the post "inexcusable and inappropriate," adding, "It is never OK to make light of such serious issues, and I take full and personal responsibility for this post ever being published." In a Facebook post linking to the statement, the website added a comment announcing the writer responsible for the post no longer works for the company. "We apologize to anyone who may have read this egregious post, to victims and survivors, and to the community of Cleveland," the statement continues, adding that CoolCleveland has made a donation to a nonprofit that helpss survivors and victims. "When we started CoolCleveland over 16 years ago, it was to help and support the cool events, cool people and cool venues in our region, not to cause further harm and pain." Cleveland.com has a screenshot of the original post and some of the angry responses. (Another ill-advised holiday post here.)

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