Hitler didn’t think he was a monster. Neither did Anthony Sowell, Ted Bundy, or Jeffery Dahmer. There’s strong evidence that the human mind is not capable of viewing the self in such a manner—in their minds, they were (or are) simply misunderstood.
Ariel Castro proved the truthfulness of that dictum Thursday in the rambling statement he made as he stood before the bar of justice to receive a sentence of life in jail plus 1,000 years. Castro blamed his terrible actions on practically everything save for own mind: the supposed fact that he was sexually abused as a child, the FBI for not finding the girls more easily, even the victims themselves for getting in his car. He wanted the entire world to know that he isn’t really a bad person. He posited that maybe it was his addiction to pornography that led him down this dark road—failing to comprehend that every alcoholic started off drinking milk.
Over and over again in the four-hour sentencing, Castro attempted to play the victim card, but Judge Michael Russo wasn’t going for it; whatever the length of the sentences he handed down, the judge said, it would not in any way be in proportion to what he did to the three women.
Michelle Knight, the only victim to attend the sentencing, related that Castro would go to church and then return home and torture his victims, who Castro had suggested were not captives at all but were in the house of their own free will. The only time Castro was brought close to tears was when he had to sign over the deed to his house of horrors. Why? Because he has so many fond memories of the two-story dungeon.
While Castro had, on virtually all other court appearances, kept his head down and his eyes focused on the floor, on sentencing day another personality emerged—a combative man who had the temerity to state that one of his captives, Amanda Berry, willingly got into his vehicle, and that his captives were the ones who asked him to engage in sexual congress, not the other way around. He seemed oblivious to the fact that that statement alone will assure that he occupies a special rung on the ladder that reaches to the lower reaches of hell.
If it wasn’t for the enormity of the actions he’s previously pleaded guilty to, Castro’s objections to what he felt was a mischaracterization of his work record as a bus driver by the judge would be laughable. This is a man who will never again see the light of day and in all probability will spend many years in solitary confinement, since prison officials are not going to risk placing him in general population—not even in one of the facilities set aside for sex offenders. Any number of prisoners already doing life—so what do they have to lose?—would kill him in a heartbeat due to his notoriety simply to raise their own creds. Yet, Castro’s concern is about how history will view his driving skills. On that one, words fail.
Castro also was quick to point out to the judge that he had not pleaded guilty to murder (the county prosecutor had threatened to seek the death penalty for causing one of the women to abort on two occasions). Indeed, that he’s just your everyday, garden-variety kidnapper and one not prone to violence.
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