Judge sets bond at $8 million for accused Cleveland kidnapper
A judge set bond Thursday at $8 million for Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man accused of locking three women in his house and subjecting them to a horrific decade of rape, forced pregnancy and starvation.
Castro, 52, is charged with four counts of kidnapping — for each of the three women and for a daughter that one woman bore in captivity. He is also charged with three counts of rape.
The bond figure reflected $2 million for each of the four kidnapping cases. Judge Lauren C. Moore of Cleveland city court also ordered Castro to have “absolutely no contact” with the victims or their families.
During a brief arraignment hearing, Castro did not enter a plea or address the judge.
“Today the situation’s turned, Your Honor. Mr. Castro stands before you a captive,” prosecutor Brian Murphy said. “The women are free to resume their lives.”
Murphy described the kidnappings as a “horrifying ordeal” and said that Castro had acted on “premeditated, deliberate and depraved decisions to snatch three young ladies from Cleveland’s West Side streets, to be used in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit.”
The prosecutor described the escape of one women and the rescue of the other two as miraculous.
On Wednesday, as two of the women returned home to jubilant crowds, rejoined their families and began adjusting to life in open society, a Cleveland police report laid out gruesome details of their captivity.
Castro lured each of the women — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight — between 2002 and 2004 by offering them rides, the report said. It said he chained each of them in the basement before allowing them to live on the second floor of his house.
Knight told police that Castro had impregnated her at least five times, and forced her to miscarry by punching her in the stomach, the report said. It said Knight was also forced to deliver Berry’s baby in a kiddie pool six years ago. The baby survived.
Authorities said they had no evidence that two of Castro’s brothers who were arrested Monday night were involved in the kidnappings.
Those brothers also appeared in court Thursday on charges unrelated to the abductions. One pleaded no contest to a charge related to an open container of alcohol. The judge dismissed a 12-year-old charge against the other brother.
Berry staged a daring escape Monday night, breaking part of the way through a storm door and screaming for help before a neighbor, Chuck Ramsey, ran to her rescue. Berry made a frantic call to 911 and pleaded for police help.
There remain many unanswered questions in the kidnappings, including why there were no witnesses and how it was possible that no one else knew that they were being held.
“Ariel kept everyone at a distance,” Ed Tomba, the deputy Cleveland police chief, told reporters Wednesday.
DeJesus, now 23, offered a thumbs-up as she returned home Wednesday. Berry, 27, was spirited into her sister’s house out of the view of reporters. Knight, 32, remained in a Cleveland hospital undergoing mental health treatment, her mother said.
Earlier story (from the Associated Press):
CLEVELAND (AP) - A Cleveland man has been arraigned on charges of rape and kidnapping days after three women missing for about a decade were found alive at his home.