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Jane Velez-Mitchell: Addiction is no excuse

  • Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus another 1,000 years for his crimes
  • HLN host Jane Velez-Mitchell weighs in on his decision to see one of his victims--his daughter
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Addiction is no excuse
JVM crime scene

Editor's Note: Jane Velez-Mitchell is an HLN host, award-winning journalist, and best-selling author. She is on Twitter.

Convicted murderer, rapist and kidnapper Ariel Castro’s demonic behavior continued right up until the moment he was dragged away in shackles to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Even as the evidence clearly showed the chains that ran through his house and a model of his house showed how he turned his home into a dungeon and filled it with women he kidnapped and turned into sex slaves, Castro insisted he was no monster… just sick. “I am addicted to porn to the point that it makes me impulsive and I just don’t realize what I am doing is wrong and it is not an excuse. I am not trying to make excuses here,” Castro said in court Thursday.

Yes, you are trying to make excuses and yes, you did know full well it was wrong to kidnap, rape, beat and starve three women for a decade.

As hideous as this whole saga has been, it is an opportunity to peer into the criminal mindset and see it in all its ugliness. The bottom line attitude of most criminals is simple: It’s not my fault — the world made me do it. They absolutely refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. It’s always someone else’s fault. And, often, that someone else is the very person or persons the criminal terrorized. It happened in the Jodi Arias case, where she tried to blame murder victim Travis Alexander, and now it’s happening again.

Castro — who pleaded guilty to 937 counts including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder — had the unmitigated arrogance to claim the three women he lured into captivity wanted sex with him. With one of his victims sitting right there in open court, Castro rambled, “Most of the sex that went on in that house, practically all of it was consensual. These allegations about being forceful on them, that is totally wrong. There were times that they would even ask me for sex. Many times.”

This is denial and defiance at its most absurd and obscene.

The packed courtroom had just heard from his most tortured victim, Michelle Knight. Back in 2002, Knight was the first of the three females he lured into his home. He’d told her he had a puppy for her 2-year-old son. Knight remained Castro’s prisoner and sex slave. She was routinely tortured, raped and otherwise emotionally abused until this past May when another victim, Amanda Berry, managed to scream for help and — once a neighbor helped her out of the house — desperately call 911. When the police arrived they found Knight, Berry and another young woman, Gina DeJesus, who had been kidnapped as well. There was also Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who’d been forcibly conceived by Castro.

Knight had been forced to play midwife to this birth and Castro threatened to kill her if the baby died. When the infant stopped breathing, Knight breathed air and life back into the baby girl. Knight behaved heroically, often putting herself between Castro and the younger DeJesus, taking the beatings and the rapes in her place when she could. Knight was repeatedly impregnated and then beaten and starved until she miscarried.

Despite all this, the man responsible had the gall to proclaim in open court that he was a victim of abuse, that he was not a violent man, and that the house of horrors in which he held these women was filled with “harmony.”

“I simply kept them there,” Castro explained, as if he were talking about a book he failed to return to the library.

Maybe Castro is a porn addict. Porn addiction is rampant in America. All addiction is progressive, so perhaps his addiction led to sicker and sicker fantasies. But, it was his choice to turn his sick fantasies into reality. As the judge mentioned during this formal sentencing hearing, Castro had other options. He could have gotten help for his alleged addiction. As for his claim of having been sexually abused himself as a child, he could have gotten help for that too.

Castro chose to kidnap. He chose to rape. He chose to assault. There is nobody responsible for his actions but himself.

Let us make sure these courageous young women did not suffer in vain by using this as an opportunity to recognize the criminal mind. Its hallmarks are defiance, denial, self-pity, resentment, rationalization, anger, arrogance and a sense of entitlement. Watch for hallmarks and when you see them… run the other way.

Now, Castro will get to see what it’s like not to be able to leave a room… and he will experience that confinement not for a decade, as his victims did, but for the rest of his life. That’s justice. 

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