'Your hell is just beginning': Castro sentenced to life for kidnappings, rape
Published Thursday, August 1, 2013 6:22AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 1, 2013 10:32PM EDT
The man who held three girls captive and repeatedly raped them in his Cleveland home for over a decade blamed his crimes on sex addiction and claimed he’s not a violent person, before he was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.
“I’m not a monster,” Ariel Castro, 53, told a judge. “I’m sick.”
The former school bus driver claimed he was sexually abused as a child and said his addiction to pornography made him impulsive.
Castro, who pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape and assault, said he never tortured his victims and claimed that “most of the sex that went on in the house, and probably all of it, was consensual.”
Judge Michael Russo quickly dismissed Castro’s rambling speech, saying: "I'm not sure there's anyone in America that would agree with you.”
Castro was sentenced to life without parole, plus 1,000 years. His guilty pleas also included two charges of aggravated murder for forcing one of his victims to miscarry.
That victim was Michelle Knight, who told court Thursday she spent 11 years in “hell” after she was abducted in 2002.
“I was so alone. I cried every night,” Knight said as she read from a prepared statement, facing the judge. She said she always thought of her young son, who was just a toddler when she was kidnapped.
“You took 11 years of my life away,” Knight said, addressing Castro without turning around to look at him.
“I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning.”
Knight and the other two victims, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, were abducted separately between 2002 and 2004. Knight was 20 years old when she disappeared. Berry was 16 and DeJesus was 14.
The women escaped in May after Berry managed to reach through a door and call out for help.
Castro had struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid a possible death sentence for severely beating Knight and starving her until she miscarried.
Castro did father a child with Berry, a daughter who was born in captivity on Christmas Day 2006. Knight helped deliver the baby and told investigators that Castro threatened to kill her if the child died.
Castro said Thursday that he tried to create a normal life for his daughter and that she would say: “My dad is the best dad in the world.”
He ultimately apologized to his victims, saying: “I’m truly sorry for what happened.”
Knight, now 32, said Thursday that her friendship with DeJesus was “the only good thing” that came out of those years of torture and rape.
“Gina was my teammate,” she said. “She nursed me back to health when I was dying from his abuse.”
Knight also told Castro that she can forgive him, “but I will never forget.
“What does God think of you hypocritically going to church every Sunday, coming home to torture us?” she said.
The court also heard that Castro had turned his house into a prison by chaining the women, boarding up the bedroom windows and setting up an alarm system.
With files from The Associated Press