Ottawa woman sentenced to two years federal prison for using teens as sex slaves in parents’ basement Gary Dimmock, Postmedia News | September 1, 2016 10:10 PM ET More from Postmedia News TONY SPEARS/Ottawa Sun/Postmedia NetworkCaroline Budd, then 21, returned to the Ottawa courthouse on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015 on the first day of her sex assault trial. A mentally ill Ottawa woman with the emotional age of a 13-year-old was sentenced to federal prison for two years on Thursday for using teenage girls as sex slaves in her parents’ basement. The victims, both 16 at the time, testified at trial and gave horrifying accounts, with one saying she had been bound and gagged only to be repeatedly raped by Caroline Budd, 22, and her ex-boyfriend Anthony Comunale, 33, on the Victoria Day weekend in 2014. One of the girls testified that she screamed in pain and begged them to stop, but the couple just laughed. Budd and Comunale had plied the girls with booze until they were falling-down drunk. They were convicted of several counts of sexual assault and forcible confinement last September. At Budd’s sentencing hearing Thursday, defence lawyer James Harbic urged the judge to spare the young woman a jail sentence in light of her emotional capacity, her list of mental disorders and a court-appointed psychiatrist’s conclusion that the “vulnerable” woman is “most at risk of being taken advantage of by other offenders due to her tendency to depend on others.” The court also heard that a psychologist said Budd may have been coerced by her ex-boyfriend. However, in his last decision before retiring, Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland said any notion that Budd was a male-coerced female sex offender would be little consolation to the two young victims whose pleas for mercy were ignored as they were terrorized in the basement. Harbic, who was hired after Budd’s conviction, told court that her lifelong sex offender “tattoo” is punishment enough, saying “there’s not a worse label to have.” “Our society does not benefit from crushing emotionally challenged youths (with jail terms),” Harbic told court, adding that it would be harmful to send a vulnerable young woman with no criminal record to federal prison. The judge also noted that Budd’s comments about how the crimes made her a better person seemed “hedonistic.” A doctor’s report highlighted in court says that Budd seems unaware of the extreme impact on her victims and has poor insight into her crimes. Budd has always maintained her innocence and once wished her victims the best of luck, court heard. The doctor concluded that Budd “has a limited appreciation of the fact that what she had done was wrong.” Budd sat in court with her head in her hands, rocking back and forth and chewing the insides of her cheeks as the judge condemned her to prison. Moments after the judge passed sentence, Budd seemed unaware of the process, and asked if she could go outside to have a cigarette before going to prison. The police officer assigned to bring her to the cell blocks politely told her that’s not how it works. The shores of Caroline Budd’s childhood were chaotic. It wasn’t until she was in Grade 2 that Ottawa teachers realized she couldn’t read or write. She didn’t speak outside of school until she was 9. She ridiculed for her weight and school officials noted that she appeared so “odd” they directed her parents to get her medical help. She was bullied and teased so much in elementary school that she would often feign illness to miss class. By the time she reached high school, she lashed back by cyber-bullying her tormentors in posts designed to instil fear. In interviews with a forensic psychologist, Budd detailed her long-term goals: to wait for advances in biotechnology so she could design wings, and to die young with $500 billion in the bank. Budd, who has a long history of self-cutting and several failed suicide attempts, is on suicide watch at the Innes Road jail until she is transferred to federal prison. Her defence lawyer is appealing the federal sentence and Budd’s co-accused ex-boyfriend, Comunale, is expected to be sentenced later this year. During the trial, lawyers for the defence branded the teen victims as “pretty little liars” who concocted the sex-attack stories to keep out of trouble with their parents. But Justice Kirkland believed the girls’ testimony, and described them as “compelling, credible and reliable.” “They did not conspire to fabricate their stories,” the judge told the court.