The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

August 1, 2013

Ariel Castro: To call him a monster is an understatement

ENID, Okla. — Ariel Castro is not a monster.

That’s what he said Thursday as he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for keeping three young women captive in his home for more than a decade.

His exact words were, “These people are trying to paint me as a monster. I’m not a monster, I’m sick.”

Not a monster.

The women — Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus — were chained, beaten and raped in every way imaginable. On at least one occasion, Castro played “Russian roulette” with the women, using a revolver he kept in the house. He repeatedly threatened to kill the women.

Not a monster.

The women were briefly moved into the garage behind the Cleveland home where they were confined. Castro kept them locked and restrained in a vehicle inside the garage for three days while he entertained a visitor in the house. The women were rarely allowed to go outside.

Not a monster.

From time to time the women would attempt to escape.

Whichever of his captives it was, once Castro caught her, she would be beaten while the other two were forced to watch.

He sexually assaulted the women on a regular basis.

After one of those rapes, Knight became pregnant. So Castro starved and beat her in an attempt to force a miscarriage. It worked.

Not a monster.

Berry likewise became pregnant during her captivity, but Castro forced Knight to help deliver the child on Christmas Day 2006, without the aid of medical care.

For her help, Castro rewarded Knight by raping her later that same day. Merry Christmas.

Not a monster.

Castro used some of the nearly 100 feet of chains found in the home to tether the women to poles in the basement and to bedroom heaters. After one woman tried to escape, Castro wrapped a vacuum cleaner cord around her neck and threatened to strangle her.

Not a monster.

Knight’s son was 2 years old at the time she was kidnapped by Castro. She spent the next 11 years without him, missing the bulk of his childhood because of Ariel Castro.

Not a monster.

Last week, Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assault.

But in court Thursday, he claimed he never beat the woman and said most of the sex was consensual.

When prosecutors met with Castro so he could sign over the deed to his house, Castro became teary-eyed and said, “I don’t understand why you have to tear my house down. I have so many happy memories there with Gina, Amanda and Michelle.”

Not a monster.

Berry’s daughter, fathered by Castro, is now 6 years old.

Of the young girl, Castro said, “She’ll probably say, ‘My daddy is the best daddy in the world.’ Because that’s how I tried to raise her in those six years. So she wouldn’t be traumatized or anything like that.”

Berry, Knight and DeJesus were so traumatized by their ordeal that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and were afraid to reveal themselves to police when authorities entered the home May 6.

Not a monster.

It wasn’t Castro’s fault, of course. In his rambling statement to the court Thursday he blamed sex addiction, his ex-wife, a childhood of sexual abuse and even the FBI.

The FBI, it seems, didn’t investigate the abductions hard enough. Castro offered every excuse short of “The Devil made me do it.”

Not a monster.

Ask Michelle Knight if Castro is a monster. She stood before him in court Thursday and said she spent 11 years in hell, while “Your hell is just beginning. After 11 years, I am finally being heard, and it is liberating.”

Liberation will not come to Ariel Castro. At his sentencing, the judge said Castro would never leave prison, “except nailed in a box or in an ash can.”

Ariel Castro is, indeed, a monster of the first order. He is certainly mentally ill, but there are many people who struggle with mental illness on a daily basis who do not resort to kidnapping and rape.

Many people must deal with sex addiction, but don’t feel the need to maintain their own captive harem to feed their obsessions.

Many people were victims of sexual abuse as children, but they don’t make victims of innocent young women to compensate for their own troubles.

Actually, Ariel Castro may be right. To call him a monster is an affront to monsters.

Ariel Castro is, well, they don’t let us use that kind of language in a family newspaper.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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