The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

May 9, 2013

Cleveland man arraigned on rape, kidnap charges

CLEVELAND (AP) — 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.

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.

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.

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 older brothers, who've been in custody since Monday, were involved, Tomba said. Prosecutors brought no charges against the brothers, citing a lack of evidence.

"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.

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