CLEVELAND — Michelle Knight , one of the three women kidnapped and sexually abused for years by Ariel Castro , described how she spent 11 years “in hell” as his sex slave, and told her former captor in court Thursday that “your hell is just beginning.”
“You may think you are the victim,” Judge Michael J. Russo told Castro. “But you are not a victim, you are a victimizer.”
Knight’s appearance was the first time she has been seen in public since she and two other women were liberated from Castro’s Cleveland house where they were held prisoner and repeatedly abused by Castro.
“You took 11 years of my life away,” Knight said at the sentencing hearing for Castro. “I spent 11 years in hell, and your hell is just beginning.”
Castro was impassive as Knight and relatives of the other victims spoke. He wore an orange prison jumpsuit. When he entered the courtroom after a break, he looked to the audience, but it was unclear whether he saw Knight, sitting with her family.
“These people are trying to paint me as a monster. I am not a monster. I am sick,” Castro told the court. He then said that he was addicted to pornography, but that was not an excuse for his actions.
“I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me,” he said later in his rambling statement, at times with tears in his eyes, before sentencing.
Castro has accepted a plea deal that will spare him the death penalty but will keep him in prison for the rest of his life.