Sex abuse survivor goes public with painful story
A man who sexually abused two girls in Cole Harbour, N.S. in the 1970s and 1980s will be sentenced on Tuesday.
One of Edwin Gerard Achorn’s victims asked for the publication ban on the case to be lifted so she could share her painful story.
“I want people to feel comfortable to tell their story,” says 44-year-old Karyn Tannahill-Blackburn, who lived on the same street as Achorn.
“I want people to know that they can turn from being a victim to a survivor.”
A Dartmouth court heard that Tannahill-Blackburn went from being a happy-go-lucky child to living a life tormented by dark secrets.
She was eventually prescribed medications after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
“I’m not hiding anymore. I kept secrets and I hid, and that equals fear, shame, pain, embarrassment, and there’s no need for that,” she says.
Achorn started abusing the girls when they were around the age of 11 and the abuse continued until they were at least 16.
The RCMP launched an investigation when Tannahill-Blackburn was in her teens but no charges were laid.
“My family was ostracized. He was a member of the church, he was a community man, and so people didn’t believe me,” she says.
Achorn was charged at a later date but fled Canada and ended up living in Australia for 20 years. He was picked up by police while visiting his mother in Glace Bay three years ago.
Achorn, now 71, waived a preliminary hearing and pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault in October.
He appeared in Dartmouth provincial court on Monday, hands folded and head bowed. He rose once to apologize, saying he was “truly sorry for any offence.”
The Crown and defence made a joint recommendation of 30 months in federal prison and restitution of $5,000.
The judge will hand down the sentence Tuesday.
“The moment that he is sentenced is when I become a survivor,” says Tannahill-Blackburn.
“I read my victim impact statement and I’m proud of that and I faced him. I just need to hear the sentence.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ron Shaw