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Cleveland house of horror accused Ariel Castro in court with head bowed

By NIKHIL KUMAR IN CLEVELAND

Hands cuffed, his chin buried in the collar of his dark blue jumpsuit, Ariel Castro kept his head down as a Cleveland judge held the 52-year-old on an $8m bond after prosecutors charged him with kidnapping and raping three women and holding a young child, during a decade in which he used his house as a prison.

Castro was brought before Judge Lauren Moore at Cleveland Municipal Court early yesterday morning after Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Ms Berry's daughter, who was born in captivity, escaped from the suspect's home at 2207 Seymour Avenue. The women were freed after neighbours heard Ms Berry's cries.

"The charges against Mr Castro are based on premeditated, depraved and deliberate decisions to snatch three young ladies on Cleveland's west-side streets to be used in whatever self-gratifying [and] self-serving way he saw fit," Brian Murphy, a county prosecutor lawyer told Judge Moore.

Mr Murphy added: "While in captivity they withstood repeated beatings.

"They were bound and restrained and sexually assaulted, basically never free to leave this residence.

"That's a home that served as Mr Castro's residence but his prison to these three women and eventually [the] child. Today the situation has changed... Mr Castro stands before you captive."

The proceedings lasted minutes, with Judge Moore swiftly setting bail at $2m for each of the four cases concerning the three women and the child.

Shortly before Castro, a former bus driver and musician, was arraigned, his brothers – 54-year-old Pedro and 50-year-old Onil – faced the court on unrelated misdemeanour charges. They had been taken into custody with their brother earlier in the week as investigators probed the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping.

Meanwhile, new allegations of the horrors endured by the three kidnap victims continued to emerge.

The child which was found at the property was born in a plastic pool. Ms Knight acted as midwife, with Castro threatening her with death if the child didn't survive.

The police report also states that Ms Knight told officers that she had been impregnated by Castro at least five times.

On each occasion, he is alleged to have starved her and beaten her to induce a miscarriage.

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