Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, who pleaded guilty to 937 felony counts—including charges that he repeatedly raped three women he abducted and held captive for more than a decade—maintained that he is “not a monster” at a Thursday sentencing hearing.
“I’m not a violent person,” Castro told the judge Thursday. “I simply kept them there without them being able to leave.”
Castro shocked the court when he said that “most of the sex that went on in that house, probably all of it, was consensual.”
“The girls were not virgins,” Castro said. “They had multiple partners before me.”
Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years.
“You are not a victim. You are a victimizer,” Judge Michael Russo told Castro during sentencing. The family of two of Castro’s victims read statements on the women’ behalf, while Michelle Knight, the first woman Castro abducted in 2002 when she was 21-years-old, made a powerful statement standing just feet from her torturer.
“You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back,” Knight told Castro. “I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all this has happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”
Castro, pacified and appearing detached, blamed an addiction to porn and sex for the kidnappings.
The three women escaped on May 6 from Castro’s Cleveland home, when Amanda Berry, who was abducted when she was 16-years-old, kicked open a door panel. Castro was arrested hours later. A third woman, Gina deGesus, was kidnapped in 2004 when she was just 14-years-old.
Castro told the court Thursday, “We had a lot of harmony going on in that home.”