BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A 64-year-old Columbia man pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his stepdaughter in front of a Howard County judge today, according to state authorities.

The victim of the sex offenses reported being abused by her stepfather between the ages of 8 to 16 years old several times a week—roughly two decades ago, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Howard County announced in a statement.

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She spoke to an officer from the Howard County Police Department about the abuse on Jan. 12, 2021. The victim said the abuse happened when she started living with Diggs in Howard County and her mother was not at home, authorities said.

At the age of 16, the victim ran away.

She said she was not in a psychologically or emotionally secure place to discuss the trauma associated with the events until recently, according to state authorities..

Witnesses confirmed to police that Diggs had admitted to sexually abusing his stepdaughter.

Officers arrested the man on Jan. 13, 2021. In a statement, he admitted to the police that he had inappropriate contact with his stepdaughter, authorities said.

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The man pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree sex offense before Howard County Circuit Court Judge Raymond Kane.

He has been sentenced to eight years in prison, according to state authorities.

Upon release from prison, Diggs will be under five years of supervised probation. He must also refrain from having any contact with the victim, have no unsupervised contact with minors, participate in sex offender treatment and register as a Tier III sex offender for the remainder of his life, authorities said.

“It took an incredible amount of courage for this victim to come forward and re-live the traumatic events that occurred at the hands of the only man she thought of as a father,” State’s Attorney Rich Gibson said. “We are pleased with the outcome of this case and hope it encourages those who may be reluctant to come forward, no matter how much time has passed.”

Gibson prosecuted the case alongside Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Ritter. 

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WJZ is withholding the identity of the man to protect the victim of the crime.

CBS Baltimore Staff