The stepmother in that horrific child abuse case in Ottawa broke her silence for the first time.

The 38-year-old spoke at her sentencing hearing today, apologizing to her son and asking his forgiveness.It was a day of raw emotion: her admission of failure.

A maternal aunt's accusations of abandonment.

And the victim himself spoke by video on his life now and how his days in that basement have impacted him.

For the first time and perhaps the final time before she is sentenced, the stepmother at the centre of this horrifying child abuse case addressed the court and her son.

“There will never be anything that will excuse the behavior of a mother in the face of such horror,” she said in a quiet voice.  The woman can’t be identified to protect the boy’s identity.

“I was afraid of my husband's actions, she added, “Under pressure, I lost my voice."

“She is extremely remorseful for failing to protect him,” said her lawyer Anne London-Weinstein outside court. London-Weinstein is asking for time served, something Justice Robert Maranger was not willing to do in light of the abuse inflicted on this little boy.

“It's a very difficult case because she's someone who is well educated, a kind person and yet she was willing to tolerate really unspeakable evil in that house,” London-Weinstein said.

The boy who is now 14 spoke earlier today by video, saying in a victim impact statement that he is doing better now than he was before. But, he added, that things still remind him of his past; most notably the scars all over his body from the torture and abuse he suffered at the hands of his father.

"People ask me what those marks are,” he said, "I don't want to talk about it. I’m impacted every time I think about it."

For months, the boy was beaten, burned, starved and humiliated in his family's basement where he was kept in chains.  He managed to escape twice. The first time in 2011, Ottawa police returned him to his father. The second time, 15 months later, he was covered in signs of trauma and weighed 50 pounds. Ottawa’s Police Chief has ordered a review of how the police investigation into this case was handled, wanting to find out what steps were taken and what police knew at the time the boy was returned to his father.

His 45-year-old father, a suspended RCMP officer, was convicted of assault, sexual assault forcible confinement and failing to provide the necessities of life. His stepmother, a high level federal public servant, was also found guilty of assault and failing to provide the necessities of life. The couple has two younger boys together.

In a victim impact statement, the victim's maternal aunt told the stepmother, “You were tucking your sons in at night while this boy lay naked, shivering on a cold cement floor. He was one of your babies too".

And, she added, “You were the only one who could have rescued him.”

The stepmother hung her head in the prisoner’s box and weeped.

The Crown is seeking five years in prison, saying that, “She contributed to a cycle of abuse and torture."

She'll be sentenced January 20th.

The stepmother's final words were directed towards her son, saying “I love him and always will.  I hope one day he will find it in his heart to forgive me.”

Sentencing for his father begins March 2nd.


Read the victim impact statement made by the maternal aunt of the victim: