Former British Columbia provincial court judge David Ramsay has been sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting young aboriginal women.

British Columbia Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm handed down the sentence Tuesday in Prince George.

Earlier Tuesday, Ramsay abjectly apologized to the young women he sexually assaulted, some of them as young as 12.

Some 300 First Nations representatives from across B.C. turned up at the courthouse to show solidarity with the victims, who ranged in age from 12 to 16.

"I'm at a loss to explain to you, the complainants and my family, how I could work so hard in all other aspects of my life, yet fail by engaging in such disgraceful conduct," Ramsay said in the courtroom during his sentencing hearing.

"I cannot undo that which has been done, nor take away the pain or the indignity I've contributed to their lives."

The victims all were aboriginal girls.

Leonard Doust, Ramsay's lawyer, said his client was so disgusted with his behaviour he tried to kill himself by drinking orange juice and anti-freeze. Doust said Ramsay should receive no more than four years in prison.

"His remorse has been overwhelming," Doust said.

Former First Nations Summit leader Bill Wilson has called Ramsay's crimes "atrocious and racist" and said the former judge deserves 25 years behind bars.

Evidence showed Ramsay, 61, paid the girls for sex, often driving them to rural areas. On one occasion, Ramsay slammed a girl's head into the dashboard of his vehicle until she bled, then sexually assaulted her.

Another girl was left naked near the highway and threatened with death if she told anyone.

The offences happened between 1992 and 2001. Ramsay was removed from the bench in July 2002, and later resigned.