Jennifer Thomas is a bestselling author, psychologist, speaker, consultant & apology critic

Kidnapper Ariel Castro Offers a Non-Apology and Gets Non-Parole

Photo Credit: John Gress

The Ohio man convicted of holding three women captive in his Cleveland house for over a decade and raping them repeatedly was sentenced today to life in prison. Judge Michael J. Russo rejected Castro’s claim of non-violence, sentenced him to life without parole for murdering one of his victim’s unborn child, and sentenced him to 10 years to life or 10 years each on multiple counts.

Ariel Castro, 53, apologized to his victims in a rambling, defiant statement before he was sentenced.

What He Said:

“These people are trying to paint me as a monster,” he said. “I’m not a monster. I’m sick.”

I was a victim of sex acts when I was a child. … I believe I am addicted to porn. I know it’s not an excuse. I’m not trying to make excuses here.”

Despite evidence of repeated rape and violence, an aggrieved Castro insisted, “I’m not a violent person. I know I was wrong but I’m not a violent person.”

“Most of the sex that went on in that house was consensual,” he said.

If anyone asked his daughter about him, Castro said, she would say, “My dad is the best dad in the world.”

Though he tried to put some of the blame on his victims, Castro repeatedly apologized to them, and at the end of his statement, said through tears, “I’m trying to answer my own questions [about the kidnappings and rapes]. I don’t know why. I just hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me, because we had a lot of harmony going on in that home.”

Castro said the FBI “let these girls down,” because “they failed to question me.”

He added: “I’ve been reading the Bible and asking for forgiveness.Thank you everyone. Thank you victims.”

My Analysis:

In When Sorry Isn’t Enough, my co-author (Gary Chapman) and I describe five critical components of apologies. We contend that apologies that blame others, excuse one’s own actions, or deny responsibility ARE NOT apologies. We would call an “Apology” such as the one from Ariel Castro a “Non-apology.”

During my pre-doctoral psychology internship, I worked in a state psychiatric hospital in Maryland. I worked with men and women who were pleading insanity to criminal charges they were facing. I used personality tests to look inside the minds of the patients there. Mr. Castro reminds me of those patients:

  • He has an overblown ego (bragging about his daughter’s view of him).
  • He makes distorted statements about others (saying that their actions were consensual).
  • He is not logical (blaming the FBI for letting the girls down).
  • He makes strange statements (why did he thank his victims?).

What about the survivors? Just before the sentencing, one of three women he kidnapped stood just feet away from Castro and confronted him, telling him his life was over. Kidnap victim Michelle Knight told Castro, “I will live on. You will die a little every day.” “You took 11 years of my life away and now I have got it back. Now your hell is just beginning … I can forgive you but I will never forget.”

I would like to offer my best wishes to the women and the one child who are survivors of Castro’s house of horrors. What they have lost is unimaginable but with time, support, and good counsel they will be whole again. We have much to learn from the way they cared for each other and made it through this together.


Mr. Castro victimized others then he went to illogical extremes to excuse his actions. To my readers, take this advice from me when you need to apologize: Be sincere, be bold in naming what you have done wrong, and wrap up your apology without saying ‘BUT’ or blaming others.

What stands out to you in this or other “Non-apologies” that people offer every day?

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