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Victim says 'hell' is just beginning for Castro
Michelle Knight (2nd from left) reads statements while supported by her attorney (L) and friend as her accused assailant Ariel Castro (R) sits in the courtroom during Castro's sentencing on Thursday. (REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)
“I spent 11 years in hell,” Michelle Knight told Castro at a hearing where he was sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years in prison. “Now, your hell is just beginning.”
“I know what I did was wrong, but I am not a violent person,” said the former school bus driver and musician, who pleaded guilty to 937 felony counts including rape, assault and kidnapping.
Within minutes of getting each woman inside the house, Detective Andrew Harasimchuk said, Castro tied them up and raped them. It was an immediate and horrific beginning to a decade of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.During her captivity, Berry became pregnant by Castro and gave birth to a child, who is now 6 years old. Knight has told authorities that Castro impregnated her multiple times as well, and then starved, beat and mistreated her until she miscarried.“You took 11 years of my life away, and I have got it back,” said Knight, the only one of the three victims to testify in court. “I will live on; you will die a little every day.”
Castro repeatedly apologized to Knight, Berry and DeJesus at the sentencing hearing. But in a rambling, 20-minute statement, he also disputed that he had been violent, saying there was “harmony” in his house, and insisting that he was a good father to the little girl he fathered with Berry.
At different times, he appeared to blame the FBI and the women themselves for various aspects of their long captivity. He said he did not plan to abduct Knight when he overheard her asking for directions in a dollar store, but he did so on impulse, driven by his aberrant sexual urges.
Knight was 21 when she was abducted by Castro in 2002; Berry was taken in 2003, at age 16; and DeJesus was kidnapped in 2002, when she was 13 years old.
The women escaped Castro’s house on May 6, after Berry kicked out part of a door and called to neighbors for help. Police who arrived on the scene entered Castro’s house and found Knight and DeJesus on the second floor. Castro was arrested hours later.
“The years turned into eternity. I knew nobody cared about me. He told me that my family didn’t care,” Knight said. “Nobody should have to go through what I went through.”
Sylvia Colon, a cousin of DeJesus, said her family was eager to close this horrific chapter of their lives. “Our beloved family member thrives,” Colon said. “She laughs, she swims, she dances. . . . She will finish school, go to college and, when she chooses, fall in love and get married.”
Serrano spoke tearfully about her family’s desire not to revisit the captivity in public and to keep details of the ordeal private, so that Berry can explain it to her young daughter in her own way, when she feels it is right.
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