Michelle Knight speaks at Ariel Castro sentencing (+video)
Michelle Knight is one of three Cleveland women that Ariel Castro admitted to abducting and sexually assaulting over an 11-year period. Michelle Knight made her victim impact statement at Castro's sentencing Thursday.
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At the sentencing, prosecutors detailed Castro's repeated sexual assaults and how he chained the women and denied them food or fresh air. They displayed photos that gave a first glimpse inside the rooms where the women lived.Skip to next paragraph
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Stuffed animals lined the bed and crayon drawings were taped to the wall where Berry lived with her young daughter, who was fathered by Castro. One of the drawings on a shelf said, "Happy Birthday."
But in the room, the window was boarded shut and door knobs had been removed and replaced with multiple locks. Saucer-size holes in inside doors were meant for circulation.
Another room, shared by Knight and DeJesus, had a portable toilet, a clock radio and several chains.
Prosecutors said the women were chained to a pole in the basement and to a bedroom heater. One woman had a motorcycle helmet placed on her head while chained in the basement; later, when she tried to escape, she had a vacuum cleaner cord wrapped around her neck.
FBI agent Andrew Burke said 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.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said in a court filing that the women kept diaries.
"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," the filing said.
Knight was lured into Castro's house with the promise of a puppy for her young son. She said she cried every night and her years in captivity "turned into eternity."
"He tormented me constantly, especially on holidays," Knight said. "Christmas was the most traumatic day because I didn't get to spend it with my son."
She sat quietly as Castro claimed the women lived happy lives with him.
"We had a lot of harmony that went on in that home," Castro said.
Castro called his daughter with Berry a "miracle child" and argued with the judge that he didn't commit a violent crime.
Once Castro finished, Judge Michael Russo thanked Knight for showing "remarkable restraint" during his statement. The judge then dismissed Castro's claims that the women lived happy lives with him.
"I'm not sure there's anyone in America that would agree with you," he said.
None of Castro's relatives was in the courtroom. Berry and DeJesus also stayed away. Instead, their family members read statements on their behalf.
"We stand before you and promise you that our beloved family member thrives," said Sylvia Colon, DeJesus' cousin. "She laughs, swims, dances and, more importantly, she loves and is loved."
Outside court, assistant prosecutor Blaise Thomas responded to Castro's claim of creating a harmonious family life for the women by recounting how Castro cried several days ago when he signed over the deed to his house as part of the plea deal. Castro was sorry to lose the house and mentioned "the many happy memories" he had there with the three women, Thomas said.
"That's how he views the world," she said. "That's how distorted and twisted he is."
The house, a drive-by attraction, has been fenced off and under police guard since the women escaped and will be demolished.
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The women have begun emerging from the privacy they had sought after they escaped to freedom.
Berry made a surprise onstage appearance at a rap concert last weekend, and DeJesus made a few televised comments as a privacy fence was being erected around her house.