Cleveland man arraigned on rape, kidnap charges (+video)

By Thomas J. Sheeran

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 9 2013 10:32 a.m. MDT

Ariel Castro appears in Cleveland Municipal court Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. Ariel Castro was charged while his brothers, Pedro and Onil Castro, were held but faced no immediate charges.

Tony Dejak, Associated Press

CLEVELAND — The man accused of raping and kidnapping three women, who were missing for about a decade before being found alive at his home, was ordered held Thursday on $8 million bail.

Ariel Castro looked down at the ground for almost the entire arraignment hearing, biting his collar and signing documents with his handcuffed hands. He didn't speak.

The women found alive after a decade in captivity endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises while walking to a garage steps away, investigators say. One of their young daughters was also freed from the house.

The 52-year-old former school bus driver has emerged as the lone suspect.

Assistant county prosecutor Brian Murphy said the women were beaten repeatedly and sexually assaulted. He said Castro used the women "in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit."

While many questions remain about how Castro maintained such tight control over the women for so many years before one of them made a daring escape Monday, the horrors they suffered are beginning to come to light.

Castro lured the women into his vehicle, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Castro's daughter, Arlene Castro, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday. She tearfully described being embarrassed and devastated upon learning of her father's suspected role in her good friend Gina DeJesus' kidnapping. Arlene was walking home from school with DeJesus in April 2004 just before she disappeared.

"I would like to say I'm absolutely so, so sorry," she said. "I really want to see you Gina and I want you to meet my kids. I'm so sorry about everything."

Police say the women were apparently bound by ropes and chains at times and were kept in different rooms. They suffered prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and had miscarriages, according to a city councilman.

Castro has been charged with four counts of kidnapping — covering the captives and the daughter born to one of them — and three counts of rape, against all three women.

Kathleen DeMetz, a public defender who represented Castro in court, said he would be transferred from a city jail medical unit — where defendants charged with sex crimes or considered a suicide risk are normally held. She said he would probably under suicide watch while at the county jail.

Castro did not have a chance to talk to his two brothers, who were arrested and cleared without charges, DeMetz said.

The women and Castro have given lengthy statements to police that have helped build their case, said Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba.

None of the women, though, gave them any indication that Castro's two brothers, who had been in custody since Monday, were involved, Tomba said. Prosecutors brought no charges against the brothers, citing a lack of evidence. The brothers appeared in court before Castro, on unrelated charges, and were in the process of being released.

Pedro Castro, 54, pleaded no contest to an open container charge while two charges against Onil Castro, 50, were dismissed.

"Ariel kept everyone at a distance," Tomba said.

One thing that remains a mystery, he said, is how the women were kept in the house so long.

"As far as the circumstances inside the home and the control he may have had over those girls ... I think that's going to take us a long time to figure that out," he said.

The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. At the time, they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

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