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Ohio suspect charged with kidnap and rape

Bail set at $8m for unemployed ex-bus driver accused of beating, bounding and starving abducted women for a decade.

Last Modified: 09 May 2013 17:50
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A Cleveland man accused of kidnapping three young women and raping them during a decade of captivity has appeared in court.

Cleveland Municipal Court in Ohio set the bond for Ariel Castro on Thursday at a total of $8m - $2m for each of the three women and a child who was born in captivity.

The accused 52-year-old unemployed former school bus driver kept his head bowed as he appeared in public for the first time since his arrest on Monday after the women's escape from his house in a low-income neighbourhood of Cleveland, Ohio.

His court-appointed lawyer, Kathleen DeMetz, said after Thursday's initial court appearance that Castro would need $800,000 cash to get out of jail.

"The man doesn't have any money," she said.

"He clearly doesn't have that."

Daughter 'so sorry'

Ariel Castro is charged with four kidnap counts [AFP]

After Castro appeared in court, his daughter, Arlene, spoke of her embarrassment and devastation over the case and apologised to the three women who accused him of the horrific crimes."He clearly doesn't have that."

One of the women, Gina DeJesus, now 23, was her friend and the pair were walking home together just before Gina disappeared in 2004.

With tears streaming down her face, Arlene had a message for DeJesus and fellow kidnap victims Amanda Berry, now 27, and Michelle Knight, 32, on ABC's Good Morning America.  

“I’m absolutely so, so sorry," she said.

"I really want to see you Gina and I want you to meet my kids. I’m so sorry for everything."

Brothers' minor charges

Castro's two brothers, Pedro and Onil, were originally arrested over the abductions, but they were not charged over the case. However, they also appeared in court before Judge Lauren Moore on Thursday on charges of drinking in public. Onil Castro was also charged with drug abuse.Castro was formally charged on Wednesday with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.Castro was being kept on a suicide watch and his lawyer said that she expected him to be kept in isolation in jail.

The charges came as police revealed that the women, who were rescued on Monday after one of them, Amanda Berry, fled with the help of a neighbour, had not seen any previous chances to escape in nearly 10 years of captivity.

"The only opportunity, after interviewing the young ladies, to escape was the other day when Amanda escaped," Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said at the same news conference.

"They don't believe that they've been outside that home for the last 10 years respectively," he said.

'Several miscarriages'

"They were not in one room, but they did know each other and they did know each other was there."

Police said earlier that they found ropes and chains in the house that had been used to hold them prisoner. No human remains were found, they said.

Officials said that the three women were at times bound in chains or rope and endured starvation, beatings, sexual assaults and in the case of one of them, several miscarriages deliberately induced by their captor.

Castro has been charged with four counts of kidnapping relating to Berry, DeJesus, Knight, and Berry's six-year-old daughter, who was conceived and born during her mother's captivity, authorities said.

A paternity test will be conducted to determine the girl's father, Tomba said.

It is also thought that castro induced miscarriages in at least one of the women by starving her and beating her in the abdomen.

Berry and DeJesus went to their families' homes on Wednesday, while Knight was in a Cleveland hospital where a spokeswoman said she was in good condition.

The rape charges against Castro relate to Berry, DeJesus and Knight, the prosecutor said.

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