Charles Ramsey, the Cleveland man who has been hailed as a hero for his role in helping to free three women from the house where police say they were held, has a criminal record that includes a history of domestic violence, the Smoking Gun reports.
As praise for Ramsey's actions continue to surface from media outlets, it remains to be seen how his past will affect the public's perceptions of his character.
Citing court documents, the Smoking Gun reports that Ramsey was charged with domestic violence in 1997 and pleaded no contest. In 1998, while Ramsey was awaiting sentencing, police arrested him again for domestic violence, the outlet notes. Ramsey had failed to appear in court for a hearing tied to the first case -- an action that led to prison time.
Ramsey served six months in prison, only to get arrested again in 2003 for domestic violence. He was then indicted on felony charges for "domestic violence with prior conviction," according to the Smoking Gun.
The media has praised Ramsey in recent days in part because he said he thought kidnapping victim Amanda Berry, whom he heard screaming from a neighbor's house, was a victim of domestic violence when he went to help her. However, that fact -- coupled with Ramsey's remarks about how he had been raised to help women in distress -- now seems to stand in contrast to his past behavior.
Ramsey's candid account of the events leading up to Berry's rescue went viral earlier this week, thanks to his colorful language and multiple references to eating McDonald's.
Ramsey has denied that his actions were heroic and told CNN's Anderson Cooper that he did what any human would do. Any reward money, Ramsey told Cooper, should be returned to the victims.
The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart updated a flattering article about Ramsey to reflect the new information, but he said it did nothing to change his mind about the man's status as a hero.
Update, May 9: Charles Ramsey has responded to the media's revealing of his criminal record, telling TMZ that he is not ashamed. He said his arrests have made him a better person.
"Those incidents helped me become the man I am today and are the reason why I try to help the community as much as I can ... Including those women," he told the news outlet.