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Stiff Sentence For Sex Slavemaster

John Jamelske, suspected of imprisoning women in underground dungeon of his house in DeWitt, New York
CBS/AP
A retired handyman who admitted keeping five women as sex slaves in an underground bunker in his back yard was sentenced Tuesday to 18 years to life in prison.

County Judge Anthony Aloi ignored a plea for leniency from John Jamelske's lawyer, who asked for a penalty of 15 years to life.

"You are a sick coward. You are an evil man. You are a kidnapper and rapist, a master manipulator of people and the truth, but your reign of terror is over," Aloi told Jamelske.

Jamelske cried in court and apologized: "I'm sorry for what I did and how it affected everyone."

Jamelske, 68, pleaded guilty last month to kidnapping five women and girls and holding them as sex slaves between 1988 and 2003 in a concrete bunker he built 3 feet (0.9 meters) underground, behind his home in DeWitt, a Syracuse suburb.

Aloi said Jamelske "should die in prison for what you have done to these five women."

Each count carried a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in prison, which meant Jamelske could have served up to 125 years behind bars if convicted at trial and sentences were combined.

Jamelske told authorities he began seeking out girls and women in 1988, after his wife became bedridden and couldn't satisfy his sexual urges. She died in 1999.

Jamelske was arrested in April after his most recent victim, a 16-year-old girl, managed to call her sister when Jamelske took her out on errands after six months of captivity.

After Jamelske's arrest, police identified four other women who said he had abducted and raped them since 1988. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 53 and were held in the bunker from two months to three years.

The bunker is linked to Jamelske's home by a steel door, hidden behind tens of thousands of empty bottles and cans, that led to a series of crawl spaces and doors.

Deputies who searched the house said they found photographs of women chained to a wall. They also say they found diaries Jamelske forced his victims to keep, recording details such as when they were raped, when they showered and when they brushed their teeth.