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Cleveland man pleads not guilty to 977 charges in abduction of women

Ariel Castro, 52, is shown in this Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office booking photo taken on May 9, 2013. Castro, accused of kidnapping three young women and raping them during a decade of captivity in his house was on Thursday ordered held on $8 million bond in a Cleveland court, his head bowed and his face turned away from spectators.

Ariel Castro, 52, is shown in this Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office booking photo taken on May 9, 2013. Castro, accused of kidnapping three young women and raping them during a decade of captivity in his house was on Thursday ordered held on $8 million bond in a Cleveland court, his head bowed and his face turned away from spectators.

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Former Cleveland school bus driver Ariel Castro on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to 977 criminal charges stemming from the abduction and long imprisonment of three women and a child born to one of them over a period of about a decade.

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 6-year-old 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.