Ohio Kidnapping, Rape Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

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  • CLEVELAND (AP) — A man accused of holding three women captive for a decade was scolded repeatedly by a judge to raise his head and open his eyes in a brief court appearance where he pleaded not guilty Wednesday to nearly 1,000 counts of kidnap, rape and other crimes.

    For the most part, Ariel Castro, 53, responded to the judge’s questions with one-word answers as he faced charges that included 512 counts of kidnapping and 446 counts of rape.

    Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Pamela Barker repeatedly told him to raise his head and keep his eyes open so “I make sure that you are listening to me and understanding what I’m saying, OK?”

    “I’m trying,” said Castro, who in past court appearances had kept his head down and his chin tucked on his chest.

    One of his attorneys, Craig Weintraub, declined later to discuss Castro’s courtroom demeanor. “I’m not going to comment on that,” he said.

    The charges returned Friday by a grand jury against Castro expanded on a 329-count indictment filed earlier that covered only part of the time frame of the alleged crimes. He previously pleaded not guilty to that indictment.

    Castro has been jailed since his arrest on May 6 shortly after the women escaped to freedom.

    The judge continued his bond at $8 million.

    Besides kidnapping and rape, the new 977-count indictment also charges him with seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of felonious assault, three counts of child endangerment and one count of possessing criminal tools.

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