Before being sentenced to life in prison without parole, kidnapper/rapist Ariel Castro told a Cleveland courtroom this week, “I am not a monster.
“People are trying to paint me as a monster, but I’m not a monster. I’m sick,” he said.
Wearing glasses, shackles and an orange jail jumpsuit, Castro appeared confident and smiling through most of his sentencing hearing, but broke down several times as he stood to deliver a long, rambling statement.
“First of all I’m a very emotional person so I’m going to try to get it out,” he said. “I was a victim of sex acts when I was a child. … I believe I am addicted to porn. I know it’s not an excuse. I’m not trying to make excuses here.”
He also spoke of sex addiction. After his marriage ended, amid allegations of wife abuse, “I continued to practice the art of masturbation, pornography … two or three hours a day, non-stop. When I was finished I would just collapse”.
He tried to paint a picture of normalcy inside the home that his victims described as hell. Despite evidence of repeated rapes, Castro insisted sex with the three kidnapped women was consensual.
“Most of the sex that went on in that house was consensual,” he said. “There was times they would ask me for sex, many times … all three of them.”
Castro said he would take his young daughter, the product of rape, to church, then come home just like a normal family.
If anyone asked that daughter about him, Castro said, she would say, “My dad is the best dad in the world.”
The judge told him during sentencing he would not be allowed to contact the girl from prison.
Though he tried to put some of the blame on his victims, Castro repeatedly apologized to them, and at the end of his statement, said through tears, “I’m trying to answer my own questions [about the kidnappings and rapes]. I don’t know why. I just hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me, because we had a lot of harmony going on in that home.”
Castro said the FBI let these girls down, because “they failed to question me”.
He added: “I’ve been reading the Bible and asking for forgiveness.Thank you everyone. Thank you victims.”
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo rejected Castro’s claim of non-violence, sentenced him to life without parole for murdering one of his victim’s unborn child, and sentenced him to 10 years to life or 10 years each on multiple counts. The penalties on those counts appeared to add up to an additional 1,000 years.
Earlier, kidnap victim Michelle Knight told Castro: “I will live on. You will die a little every day. …
You took 11 years of my life away and now I have got it back. Now your hell is just beginning … I can forgive you but I will never forget.”
She said of her ordeal: “Years turned into eternity. I knew no one cared about me. He told me.”
Castro starved Knight and jumped on her stomach to end a pregnancy.
“Gina [DeJesus] … nursed me back to health when I was dying from his abuse,” Knight said. “We said one day we would make it out alive. And we did.”
Neither DeJesus nor Castro’s other victim, Amanda Berry, appeared in person.
The Cleveland police officer who interrogated Castro said during the hearing Castro told him he kidnapped three young women purely to satisfy his sexual needs.
Joshua Barr, a forensics investigator for the state, testified he examined a pistol and nearly 100 feet of chain taken from Castro’s home. Barr said the chain weighed more than 92 pounds.
The victims have said they were in fear of their lives if they tried to escape, and had been bound with chains.
FBI special agent Andrew Burke, who examined the house, said he saw several points where the chains apparently had been secured, and the house was fortified not only to keep people out, but to keep people in.
Castro pleaded guilty last week to 937 counts of a 977-count indictment, admitting he held three women captive in his Cleveland home for a decade.
The plea included two charges of aggravated murder for terminating the pregnancy of one of his captives. The deal spares him from the death penalty.
Castro abducted Berry, DeJesus and Knight separately over two years starting in 2002, authorities say. The young women were rescued after Berry kicked in a screen door and yelled to neighbors for help. A six-year-old girl, Berry’s daughter fathered by Castro, was also rescued.
As part of the plea agreement with prosecutors, Castro would forfeit his home and his savings. Prosecutors said his home would be demolished soon.