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Life Without Parole for Man in Cleveland Abductions, Rapes

The man who pleaded pleaded guilty to holding three young women captive in his Cleveland, Ohio, house for a decade has been sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for his crimes.

Judge Michael Russo told Castro during his sentencing hearing Thursday that he could not have contact with any of the victims, including his daughter born to one of the women he kept locked in his home.

Former school bus driver Ariel Castro apologized to the victims during his sentencing hearing, but denied violently assaulting them. He blamed his actions on his addiction to sex and pornography.

"What I'm trying to get at is these people are trying to paint me as a monster, and I'm not a monster. I'm sick. My sexual problems have been so bad on my mind, and I'm impulsive," he said.

One of the victims, 32-year-old Michelle Knight, entered the courtroom with her head held high in defiance. She told Castro he will "face hell for eternity."

"I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning," said Knight.

Before Thursday's sentencing, the 53-year-old Castro had agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison and pleaded guilty to 937 charges in exchange for prosecutors dropping the threat of a death sentence.

Knight said Castro deserved life in prison because the death penalty would have been easier for him. She said being heard after 11 years in captivity was "liberating."

Relatives of the other two victims also spoke at the hearing.

Castro abducted Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Knight, shackled them and repeatedly raped them until Berry escaped in early May. Police then freed the other two.

Berry bore a daughter by Castro during her captivity, and the girl is now six years old.
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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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