For the first time since she was rescued from captivity with two other women in May, 32-year-old Michelle Knight faced her captor and rapist in court as he was sentenced to serve the rest of his life behind bars. [videoembed id=181683]
Knight addressed Castro in a Cleveland courtroom, saying, "You took 11 years of my life away and now I've got it back. I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning."
Initially faltering but regaining her composure, she had a strong message for the man who abducted and raped her for more than a decade.
"I will overcome all of this that happened," she said. "But you will face hell for eternity. I will live on. You will die a little every day. I can forgive you, but I will never forget."
[embedgallery id=147870]Knight and two of Castro's other victims, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, have mostly kept out of the public eye since their May 6 rescue from the house where they had been held for more than 10 years. In July, the three women released a video statement thanking the people of Cleveland for their support and asking for privacy as they move on with their lives.
Castro accepted a plea deal a week earlier, the terms of which will require him to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 1,000 years. He agreed to the deal in return for prosecutors sparing him the possibility of the death penalty.
Knight spoke of her son, who was just 2-and-a-half years old when she was abducted by Castro.
"I missed my son every day," she said in a prepared statement. "I cried every night. I was so alone."
She went on, "The days never got shorter. The days turned into nights. The nights turned into days. Years turned into eternity. Nobody should ever have to go through what I went through. Or anyone else. Not even a worst enemy."
Knight also spoke of the friendship she formed with DeJesus in captivity.
"My friendship with her was the only thing that was good out of this situation," Knight said. "We said that someday we would make it out alive, and we did."
Knight finished her statement by saying she wants to move forward by helping other victims. [embedgallery id=146543]
"With the guidance of God, I will help others who have suffered at the hands of others," she said. "I know there is a lot of people going through hard times, but we need to reach out a hand and hold them, and let them know they are being heard. After 11 years, I am finally being heard."
Castro also addressed the court in a rambling statement saying, "I'm not a monster."
He spoke about the accusations of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, saying, "I couldn't get her to quiet down." [videoembed id=195611]
Castro then went on to take the court, in disturbing detail, through the time period of his life before abducting the three young women.
"I was single for about five years. In that time, I continued to practice the art of masturbation ... sometimes two to three hours a day nonstop," he said.
He added, "I know it's 100 percent wrong, but they are trying to say that I am a violent person. I'm not a violent person. ... I am a moral person. I am just sick."
He spoke about each victim and their families, saying about Knight, "I haven't seen her much ... because from day one, nobody missed her."
As he addressed the court, Castro also said most of the sex he had with his victims was consensual: "Practically all of it was consensual. These girls were not virgins. They had multiple partners before me — all three of them."
He said he was a good and loving father to the daughter he fathered with Amanda Berry while she was in captivity.
"She would probably say, 'My dad is the best dad in the world,'" Castro said of his daughter. "She had a normal life."
"Finally, I would like to apologize to the victims. I am truly sorry for what happened. To this day I am trying to answer my own questions, because we had a lot of harmony in that house," he said, choking back tears. "I had everything going on for me. I have a good history of working and providing. ... I just hope they find it in their hearts to forgive me."