Edwin Gerard Achorn

Edwin Gerard Achorn, 71, of Cole Harbour pleaded guilty, admitting to abusing the girls for years. (CBC)

Decades after being sexually abused, two victims finally received justice in Dartmouth provincial court Tuesday after their attacker, now 71 years old, pleaded guilty.

Edwin Gerard Achorn of Cole Harbour admitted to abusing the girls for years during the 1970s and 1980s. He was facing 11 charges but pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two charges of sexual assault.

“I didn’t think he would [plead guilty] but it’s about damn time he did,” one of his victims told CBC News.

About 20 years ago, Achorn and his family moved to Australia, complicating a police investigation into the accusations. He was arrested three years ago in Los Angeles, en route home to Nova Scotia.

One of his victims, who was under the age of 16 when the abuse took place, approached CBC News to tell her story.

“This has been going on for over 30 years and there’s never been guilt, he [was] a friendly man in the neighbourhood, the head of our church. He tickles and chases and that’s how it starts -- and there’s never been guilt … that’s just normal behaviour. And all of a sudden now, he’s just admitting that there was more [to it], and there was,” she said.

The victim, whose identity is protected, said she was initially turned away by police when she first told them her story in 1984.

“In 2000, I went to the Cole Harbour [RCMP] detachment again and spoke to another constable and he started getting the ball rolling and that’s what started the Canada-wide warrant out for his arrest … So in 2010 I went again, when he was arrested, and then the ball started rolling,” she said.

The woman said she spoke to CBC to encourage other victims of childhood abuse to come forward and seek justice from the police.

“His prison time I can’t control, I can’t control that justice. My justice for me is to let every man or woman or boy or girl know you don’t give up. You keep telling your story, you keep going to the RCMP, you keep telling people because the shame’s got to go away … you have to be proud of who you are,” she said.

“There’s no shame anymore, there's no shame. My justice is for people to tell their story, to get it out there, don’t be embarrassed. It’s never too late.”

Achorn is expected back in court in mid-December for sentencing.