Ariel Castro Pleads Not Guilty

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Facing 329 charges, including two counts of aggravated murder, 139 counts of rape and 177 counts of kidnapping, Ariel Castro entered a not-guilty plea July 12 in a Cleveland courthouse.

Castro is suspected of having kidnapped three young women and keeping them in his home for about a decade. According to court records, the 52-year-old suspect chained, tortured and sexually assaulted Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight during that time.

The three young women who were missing for about a decade before being rescued from a home in Cleveland where they say they were chained, tortured and sexually assaulted, have given police similar accounts about how their long nightmares began.

In a police report that NPR has been shown, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight are quoted as saying that suspect Ariel Castro’s approach was simple. On Morning Edition, NPR’s Cheryl Corley said it’s alleged that:

“Nearly 10 years ago, [Castro] told then 14-year-old DeJesus he’d drop her off at his house so she could meet with his daughter. … He lured Amanda Berry [in 2003] by telling her his son worked at the same restaurant she did. He offered Michelle Knight a ride home [in 2002].”

As Cheryl adds, all three — according to their accounts — “would end up chained in the basement of the house before living later on the second floor. They were allegedly forced to have sex with Castro. One victim told police she became pregnant several times but Castro punched her in the stomach so she would miscarry. Amanda Berry give birth to a daughter who is now six. Authorities will give the child a paternity test to confirm Castro is the father.”

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