Moments before a Cleveland Court sentenced Ariel Castro to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years for keeping captive three women in his Cleveland home for a decade, he issued an apology to his victims but claimed he's "not a monster," but "sick" and "addicted to porn."
Castro repeatedly said he wasn't trying to "make excuses" but then proceeded to give reasons as to why he isn't a monster in a rambling statement before the court in Cleveland, Ohio.
"These people are trying to paint me as a monster," Castro said. "I'm not a monster. I'm sick."
He says he knows what he did was wrong, but that he's not a violent person and that his captives asked for sex and weren't tortured.
Castro then backed that up with his reasoning for the 937 counts of rape and kidnapping he pleaded guilty to last week.
"I'm sick," he said. "I'm addicted to porn."
The 53-year-old former school bus driver even suggested that the public and the three victims he held captive "do some research on people who have addictions, so they can see how addiction takes over their lives."
Castro's statement went on to blame his former wife and even the FBI for not thoroughly investigating the abductions.
Castro said all three women "were not virgins" at the time they were kidnapped and that they all had "multiple partners" before him.
"The sex was consensual," Castro said. "There were times they would ask me for sex."
He also claimed the women lived a happy life with him. "We had a lot of harmony that went on in that home," he said. Castro said he didn't even plan the first kidnapping.
Castro made his statement while one of his victims, Michelle Knight, sat just feet away. It was the first time Knight had been seen publicly since her rescue from the house where she was held captive. Judge Michael Russo thanked Knight for her "remarkable constraint" during Castro's comments.
"You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back," she told Castro before he was sentenced. "I spent 11 years in hell. Now you're hell is just beginning. I will overcome all this has happened, but you will face hell for eternity."
Knight, 32, did not face Castro as she spoke, but he glanced toward her several times after she entered the courtroom. She was the first woman abducted by Castro, in 2002, after he lured her into his house with the promise of a puppy for her son.
Castro has pleaded guilty to charges that he repeatedly raped Knight and two other victims, and also forced Knight to miscarry after he impregnated her five times.
Prosecutors detailed Ariel Castro's assaults and law enforcement witnesses described the jury-rigged prison he built in his ramshackle home.
FBI agent Andrew Burke said Castro turned his house into a prison by creating a makeshift alarm system and chaining them 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.
A letter written by Castro was found in his home and shown in court. It read "Confession and Details" at the top.
Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Detective Dave Jacobs said he talked with Castro a few days after the women escaped and that Castro said, "I knew what I did was wrong."
The Day The Women Were Found
A police officer who helped rescue the women said one was reluctant to come out of her room even when she saw the officers. They were scared even after they were taken out of the house and quickly began sharing details about the horrors they went through, saying that they had been starved and beaten.
"They were just shouting out a lot of things," said Cleveland police officer Barb Johnson. She described the women as thin, pale and scared.
Responding to questions from prosecutors, Cleveland police detective Andrew Harasimchuk said that the women all described a pattern of being physically, sexually and emotionally assaulted for years. He said all three women were abducted after Castro offered them a ride and that each was chained in his basement and sexually assaulted within a few hours of being kidnapped.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said in a sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday that Castro, who fed his captives only one meal a day, "admits his disgusting and inhuman conduct" but "remains remorseless for his actions."
The memorandum described a diary kept by one of the women.
"The entries speak of forced sexual conduct, of being locked in a dark room, of anticipating the next session of abuse, of the dreams of someday escaping and being reunited with family, of being chained to a wall, of being held like a prisoner of war ... of being treated like an animal," it says.
Prosecutors used a model of the house where Castro, 53, imprisoned the women to present their case. They also showed photos taken from inside the disheveled home.
The women quickly escaped after Amanda 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.
Some horrific details of the women's ordeal had already emerged, including tales of being chained to poles in the basement or a bedroom heater or inside a van, with one woman forced to wear a motorcycle helmet while chained in the basement and, after she tried to escape, having a vacuum cord wrapped around her neck.
Berry, 27, made a surprise onstage appearance at a rap concert last weekend, and a second victim, Gina DeJesus, 23, has made a few televised comments. Knight, 32, appeared with Berry and DeJesus in a video in early July thanking the community for its support.
Knight, the first of three to disappear, also sent police a handwritten letter thanking them for their help collecting cards and gifts for the women. In the note, Knight told Second District Cmdr. Keith Sulzer, "Life is tough, but I'm tougher!"
The Associated Press contributed to this article.