Media Labels Cleveland Kidnapper a "Sex Addict"

By Sarah Beller 05/10/13

"Sex addiction has become a convenient excuse for almost anything bad associated with sex," responds one psychologist.

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Ariel Castro Photo via

Various media sources report that Ariel Castro, 52, the man charged with kidnapping and raping three women over roughly 10 years, claims to be a "sex addict." Castro, who was arrested on Monday after Amanda Berry, one of the kidnapped women, escaped from his house with the help of neighbors and called police, was held on $8 million bond Thursday by a Cleveland Municipal Court judge. Meanwhile, police found a suicide note from around 2004 in Castro's house, in which he wrote "I am a sex predator. I need help," according to the New York Post. In the note, Castro also reportedly blames the girls for their own abductions. Whether or not Castro is identifying as an addict in an attempt to explain his actions, clinical psychologist Dr. David J. Ley responds in Psychology Today that the use of the term unfairly shifts the discussion away from the crimes. "The label of sex addiction has become a convenient, fictional excuse and label, for almost anything bad or problematic associated with sex," writes Ley. "To allow sex addiction to enter into this discussion treats these victims callously, and blames sex for their suffering, rather than placing the blame on the man who kidnapped, raped and imprisoned them." Berry and her fellow kidnapping victim Gina DeJesus have both returned home. According to a hospital spokesperson the third woman, Michelle Knight, was released from MetroHealth Medical Center today.

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Sarah Beller is a writer and the Executive Director at Filter. She has written about drug policy with a focus on harm reduction for Substance.comThe Fix and Salon. She has worked as a social worker with formerly incarcerated people in New York for a number of years. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’sThe HairpinThe ToastReductressThe Rumpus and other publications. You can find Sarah on Linkedin and Twitter.