Blaming It All On “Addiction”

Yesterday Ariel Castro was sentenced to more than 1000 years in prison for the kidnapping, rape, and years of torture of three women in Cleveland.

Michelle Knight, who was held captive by Castro for 11 years, read an emotional statement at the hearing.  She said she had spent 11 years in hell, and now Castro’s hell would be just beginning.  She also vowed not to let her terrible experience define her, or affect who she is, and instead to live on despite the ordeal.  Those are noble, life-affirming sentiments from someone who has had to endure the unendurable.

Castro also spoke.  He blamed his behavior on an “addiction” to sex and porn that made him “impulsive.”  He said he was not a “monster” or a “violent predator,” but just a “normal person” whose addiction made him not understand that what he was doing is wrong.  “I’m a happy person inside,” he said.

Castro later said he was “truly sorry” for his acts, but of course that “apology” rings awfully hollow.  It’s obvious that Castro has rationalized away taking responsibility for his heinous acts, blaming a phony “addiction” rather than accepting blame himself.

One thousand years is a long time, but mere physical incarceration is not the same as experiencing true moral guilt for your criminal conduct.  Castro obviously doesn’t, and that makes even a 1,000-year sentence seem inadequate.  It’s a sad day for our society when a man who kidnapped and enslaved three women, raped them repeatedly, beat them until they miscarried, and kept them in chains, can deny his obvious status as a “violent predator” and publicly claim to be a “normal person” who is “happy inside.”

A Neighbor And A Rescuer

The story about the three kidnapped women held hostage for years in a rundown Cleveland neighborhood continues to unfold.  Questions are being asked about whether the Cleveland police properly handled earlier incidents involving the house — but for now the man who is enjoying his five minutes of fame is Charles Ramsey, a neighbor who responded to Amanda Berry’s call for help, aided her in escaping the house, and is pretty funny, besides.  His interview with a local TV reporter is an instant YouTube classic.

Finding The Faces On The Milk Cartons

An extraordinary story is being reported from Cleveland.  Three women who vanished a decade ago when they were teenagers have been found, alive.

The three women — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight — apparently were held captive for years in a house on Cleveland’s near West Side.  One of the women escaped through a broken door with the help of a neighbor who heard her cries for help.  She then called police, who came to rescue the other two women from the house.  The three women were taken to a nearby hospital, where they were found to be in fair condition.  Three brothers have been arrested. 

As the Cleveland Mayor has been quoted as saying, there are a lot of questions to be answered in the coming days.  How were the three women held captive for so long in a Cleveland neighborhood?  Were neighbors aware of their presence?  Were there any signs that should have led to their rescue at an earlier date?

For now, though, the families of the three young women are just thankful that they have been freed from captivity and returned to their loved ones.  Their story should give hope to the families of others who have been missing for years, who are shown in the blurry pictures on milk cartons and whose families have experienced terrible pain and loss.  How many of the missing are still alive, held captive somewhere in an otherwise normal-looking American neighborhood, always hoping for a chance to escape?