SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — State Rep. Sherry Roberts got emotional on Wednesday as she gave a statement at a sentencing hearing for a case dating back decades.

Roberts faced her alleged sexual assailant, Harry Noel Edwards, in court.

Edwards, 71, of South Kingstown, received a 10-year suspended sentence with probation after he agreed to plead no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree sexual assault.

He will also be required to register as a sex offender, undergo counseling, and be subject to lifelong police monitoring and a restraining order.

Roberts told the courtroom that Edwards was her stepfather at one point and claimed he began grooming her at the age of 8. She said he went on to sexually assault her during her teenage years up until her mother left, which she said has had a profound effect on her life to this day.

“This child predator not only stole my childhood, but he tried to steal my dignity and self worth,” she said in court. “I struggle with nightmares. I struggle with different things.”

Roberts said she first reported Edwards back in 1982 and next week will mark 40 years to the day that she’s been fighting for justice.

“It’s almost unbelievable that I’ve gotten any form of justice,” she added. “I went all those years thinking I wouldn’t get any form at all, and that’s damaging in itself.”

For Day One Executive Director Peg Langhammer, Wednesday was a big win for survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.

“I can’t say enough, these cases are so difficult to prosecute,” Langhammer said. “For victims to come forward, it takes amazing courage and drive, but it’s not always enough.”

“This is an example of where the system worked in the best interest of the victim,” she added, “and I think everyone is to be applauded.”