Source: Reuters / Yahoo! News
CLEVELAND – Former Cleveland school bus driver Ariel Castro on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to 977 criminal charges stemming from the abduction and imprisonment over about a decade of three women and the birth of a child to one of them during that time.
A grand jury on Friday added 648 charges to a previous indictment against Castro, who is accused of abducting the first of the women in August 2002 and holding them captive until they escaped his home on May 6 with a 6-year-old girl he fathered during her mother’s captivity.
An attorney for Castro, 53, entered the “not guilty” plea during a brief arraignment before Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Barker, who kept in place an $8 million bond and order that Castro not be allowed to see his daughter.
Gina DeJesus, 23, Michelle Knight, 32, and Amanda Berry, 27, had been missing for around a decade. Officials have said that they were kept bound for periods of time in chains or rope and that they endured starvation, beatings and repeated sexual assaults.
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