Cleveland’s Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts against him on Thursday, including kidnapping, rape, assault, and aggravated murder. But during his sentencing, Castro made a statement both denying and justifying his crimes. In a shocking declaration, he played the victim—denying that he preyed on and tortured his victims—and blamed his actions on an addiction and at times even the women he kept as sex slaves for over decade. Here are the most shocking bits.
1. He’s not a monster—he’s just sick.
“They’re trying to say I’m a violent person,” Castro said of the prosecution. “I’m not a violent person. I drove a school bus, I was a musician, I have a family.”
Instead, Castro blamed his behavior on an addiction to sex and pornography. “I'm not a monster. I’m a normal person. I'm sick,” he said. “I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction … I did not prey on these women. I just acted on my sexual instincts.”
He also sought to explain his actions by stating that he had been sexually abused himself as a child. “As I stated before, I was a victim of sex acts, as a child. This led me into viewing pornography for my whole life.”
2. He blamed his victims. And the FBI.
Prosecutors revealed in court that Castro had targeted his second victim, Amanda Berry, by offering to give her a ride home from her job at Burger King. Castro allegedly invited Berry to come into his home to see his daughter—whom Berry knew—but instead Berry was immediately chained to a pole in the basement.
However, Castro seemed to blame Berry for her own kidnapping.
"Amanda, she got in my vehicle without knowing who it was. I'm not trying to put the fault on her, but I'm just trying to make a point across I'm not a violent predator.”
In a particularly galling move, Castro also cast blame for "what happened" on the FBI, saying that the agency has "let the girls down" by not finding them sooner.
3. He said his home was NOT a house of horrors, and denied raping the women.
“There was a lot of harmony in that home,” Castro said multiple times.
“Most of the sex that went on in the house, and probably all of it, was consensual,” he said. “These allegations about being forceful upon them, that is totally wrong. There were times that they would even ask me for sex, many times. And I learned that these girls were not virgins from their testimony to me. They had multiple partners before me—all three of them."
4. He provides his victims’ happiness in freedom as evidence that they were not tortured in captivity.
Referring to a photo of Amanda Berry at a recent concert, Castro said, "That right there itself proves that girl did not go through no torture. If that was true, do you think she would be out there partying already and having fun? I don’t think so. “
Referring to Gina DeJesus, he said, “She looks normal. She acts normal. A person who has been tortured does not act normal. They might act withdrawn and everything … She’s happy. The victims are happy."
"God as my witness,” he added, “I never beat these women like they're trying to say that I did. I never tortured them.”
5. He said he was a good father.
Castro said his daughter—whom he conceived with his victim Amanda Berry—would say, “My dad is the best dad in the world.”
“That’s how I tried to raise her in those six years,” he said, “so she won't be traumatized or anything like that. I tried to take her out into public to give her a normal life.”
6. He denied being violent.
“I'm not a violent person. Like I said, I drove a school bus, I was a musician, I had a family. I do have value for human life because every time I came home I would be so glad of the situation, as crazy as it may sound.”
7. He finally apologized, but he really feels sorry for himself
“Finally, I would like to apologize to the victims to Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. I am truly sorry for what happened. To this day I’m trying to answer my own questions. I don’t know why. A man that had everything going on for himself—I had a job, I had a home, I had vehicles, I had my musical talent. I had everything going on for me.”
"Thank you, victims. Please find it in your heart to forgive me."