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Ariel Castro sentenced to life plus 1,000 years

CLEVELAND -- An Ohio man convicted of imprisoning three women in his house and raping them repeatedly for a decade blamed his actions on a sex addiction as he was sentenced yesterday to life without parole plus 1,000 years.

Ariel Castro, 53, apologized to his victims before he was sentenced, but claimed most of the sex was consensual and that the women were never tortured.

"These people are trying to paint me as a monster," he said. "I'm not a monster. I'm sick."

Just before the sentencing, one of three women he kidnapped stood within feet of Castro and told him his life was over.

"You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back," Michelle Knight said. "I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning."

Knight, 32, was the first woman Castro abducted, in 2002, after he offered her a ride and lured her into his house with the promise of a puppy for her son. Relatives of the other two victims, Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus, spoke on their behalf.

Castro pleaded guilty last week to 937 counts including aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assault. A deal struck with prosecutors last Friday spared him from a possible death sentence for beating and starving a pregnant victim until she miscarried.

During his statement, Castro also said he had never had any trouble until he met his wife, who has since died. "I was never abusive until I met her," he said.

Judge Michael Russo told Castro that there was no place in the world for people who enslave others. "These women never gave up hope," Russo said. "In fact, they prevailed." As Castro was led away, Knight watched, smiling.

The hearing gave prosecutors a chance to detail some of Castro's assaults and law enforcement a chance to describe the jerry-rigged prison he built in his ramshackle home.

FBI agent Andrew Burke said Castro created a makeshift alarm system and chained the women inside bolted bedrooms. Bedroom windows were boarded shut from the inside with heavy closet doors, and doorknobs had been removed and replaced with multiple locks, he said.

The house was divided in ways to make it more secure and to hide the existence of rooms, he said.

Burke also testified that Castro would occasionally pay his victims after raping them. But he then would require them to pay him if they wanted something special from the store.

Cleveland police Det. Andrew Harasimchuk said each woman was abducted after Castro offered her a ride and that each was chained in his basement and sexually assaulted within a few hours of being kidnapped.

The women escaped after Berry kicked out the door panel on May 6, and Castro was arrested within hours. The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

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