The US man who kidnapped three women and held them captive in his home for a decade has been sentenced to life in prison as well as 1,000 years in consecutive sentences. The women escaped on May 6.
An Ohio court sentenced Ariel Castro on Thursday to life in prison without parole plus consecutive sentences that total 1,000 years to life, for having kidnapped three women who he used as his sex slaves for nearly a decade.
Upon ending the sentencing Judge Michael Russo said to Castro, "There is no place in this world for those who enslave others." Of the victims he said, "You cannot take away their diginity...they have persevered, in fact they have prevailed."
Before the sentencing, representatives for two of the victims - Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23 - made statements to the court on their behalf. The third victim, Michelle Knight, 32, appeared in person to give her statement.
"I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all of this that happened, but you will face hell for eternity," she said.
According to court documents, Castro repeatedly starved and beat Knight each time she was pregnant, forcing her to miscarry five times.
Ariel Castro, 53, also delivered a statement before the court. He told the court that he captured the women because he was addicted to sex and pornography.
"I am not a monster. I am a normal person. I am just sick. I have an addiction just like an alcoholic has an addiction," he said. Castro apologized for his behavior and said he was "wrong."
On Friday, Castro accepted a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty. He pleaded guilty to more than 900 counts, including kidnapping and rape related to the women he held in his home in Cleveland, Ohio. As a result of the deal, there was no trial, which means the victims were spared the requirement of testifying before the court.
Under the plea bargain, there is no possibility that he will be paroled or re-indicted at any point in the future.
Decade of abuse
Castro's victims released videos last month in which they thanked supporters and said they were putting their lives back together. Berry also has a 6-year-old daughter, who was born while she was being held.
The women were kidnapped in separate incidences between 2002 and 2004 and were freed from Castro's home on May 6 after Amanda Berry managed to escape from the home.
During their captivity, the women were bound for periods of time in chains or ropes, and were forced to endure starvation, beatings and sexual assaults, according to court documents and a police report.
hc/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP)