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Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro: 'I'm not a monster. I'm sick.'

August 01, 2013|By Michael Muskal

Ariel Castro apologized for imprisoning and sexually abusing three women in his Cleveland house for years. But he insisted he was not the monster that many people see.

“These people are trying to paint me as a monster,” Castro said on Thursday, in a rambling statement before Judge Michael J. Russo imposed a sentence of life in prison without any possibility of ever getting out.

“I'm not a monster. I'm sick,” Castro insisted.

The outcome of the sentencing hearing was never in doubt since Castro had accepted a plea deal last week. As part of the agreement, Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts of kidnapping, rape and other charges but avoided the death penalty.

“You may think you are the victim,” Russo said during the televised sentencing. “But you are not a victim, you are a victimizer.”

Castro, 53, will die in prison. But for one of his victims, the sentence was still way too little and she said she wanted him to spend eternity in hell.

“You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back,” Michelle Knight told Castro in her first public appearance since being freed from captivity in May. “I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all that happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”

Knight, 32, was just feet away from Castro. Wearing eyeglasses and an orange prison jumpsuit, Castro looked at her several times as she spoke.

Castro then spoke on his own behalf, blaming an addiction to pornography and his own sexual abuse. He blamed some of his relatives and authorities. He also apologized to his victims and claimed the sex was consensual.

“We had a lot of harmony that went on in that home,” Castro said to a stunned court.

“I’m not sure there’s anyone in America that would agree with you,” Russo said.

Knight was the first woman abducted by Castro in 2002 after he lured her into his house with the promise of a puppy for her son.

During the hearing, which lasted almost four hours, the prosecution called witness after witness who described the house that Castro turned into a prison.

FBI agent Andrew Burke described the alarm system and how Castro had chained his victims. Bedroom windows were boarded shut from the inside, multiple locks were deployed on heavy doors.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Det. Dave Jacobs said he talked with Castro a few days after the women escaped and that Castro said, “I knew what I did was wrong.”

Under questioning by prosecutors, Cleveland police detective Andrew Harasimchuk said that the women described a pattern of being physically, sexually and emotionally assaulted for years. He said all three women were abducted after Castro offered them a ride and that each was chained in his basement and sexually assaulted within a few hours of being kidnapped.

In addition to Knight, relatives of the other victims,  Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, also spoke.

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