A Cleveland man was arraigned Thursday on charges of rape and kidnapping after three women missing for about a decade and one of their young daughters were found alive at his home earlier in the week.
Ariel Castro looked down at the ground for almost the entire court proceeding, biting his collar and signing documents with his handcuffed hands. He didn’t speak. Bond was set at $8 million.
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.
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.
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.