Castro claims he's 'happy man inside' before being sentenced to 1,000 years in prison

Ariel Castro

The man convicted of holding three women captive in his Cleveland house over a decade and raping them repeatedly has been sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years.

A strong but emotional Michelle Knight, taken by Castro as his captive in 2002, spoke to her former captor in court. "You took eleven years of my life away and I just got it back," Knight read from a prepared statement. "I spent eleven years in hell and now your hell is just beginning."

Ariel Castro, 53, was being handed life behind bars plus 1,000 years at an emotional sentencing Thursday. He had pleaded guilty to 937 counts including aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assault.

Frantic 911 call leads to 3 missing women.

A plea deal struck last week spared him from a possible death sentence for beating and starving a pregnant victim until she miscarried.

The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

They escaped to freedom May 6 when one of them, Amanda Berry, broke out part of the door to Castro's house and yelled to neighbors for help.

The former Cleveland bus driver admitted in court that he passed his own daughter on the street to abduct Gina DeJesus. He also admitted to attended vigils for his captives while the three women were held by chains inside his home.

Victims tell a story of strength and courage.

Castro began a statement in court by repeating what he has claimed since being arrested, that he was the victim of sexual abuse as a child. He continued, "People are trying to paint me as a monster. I'm not a monster, I'm sick." He apologized to the three women he adbucted, held captive, and repeatedly raped for a decade before claiming that most of the sex was consensual.

During her time in captivity, Berry gave birth to a child conceived after forced sexual contact with Castro. The girl now lives with her mother.

At Thursday's sentencing, the judge ordered that Castro have no contact or communication with any of his victims. When Castro asked if he could see or talk to his daugther, the judge simply replied no, stating she is also a victim.