John Holman

John David Holman Sr. committed the crimes in between the 1976 and 1985, but the investigation began decades later, after one of the victims told a family member about the abuse. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

A 67-year-old Inuvik, N.W.T. man has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for sexually assaulting three girls more than 30 years ago.

John David Holman Sr. pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the girls, who ranged in age from seven to 13 years old.

He committed the crimes in the 1970s and 80s, but the investigation began decades later, after one of the victims told a family member about the abuse and then reported it to the police. 

"A victim had come forward and disclosed the first incident, then Mr. Holman himself, in an interview with the RCMP, told of the other incidents," said Wendy Miller of the Prosecution Justice of Canada. "And then those victims were contacted and came forward, and that's how we ended up at this point, with him being sentenced for all three."

Holman was a heavy drinker at the time he assaulted the girls, but has been sober for 20 years now.

He was sexually abused by a father figure in his life when he was a child.

Justice Louise Charbonneau said she has no doubt those assaults contributed to the alcohol abuse Holman was engaged in at the time he assaulted the girls.

In a written statement the judge described as both "compelling" and "heartbreaking," one of Holman's victims said the abuse she suffered left her feeling ashamed and worthless, and she said she still suffers from anxiety attacks as a result of the abuse.

She also said Holman's abuse has made her an over-protective mother to her children, because she was always fearful of them suffering like she did.

Typically, people sentenced to two years or more have to do their time in penitentiaries in southern Canada, but in this case, the judge recommended Holman be allowed to serve his time in the North.