A Georgia man will spend 20 years behind bars after he was convicted of repeated sexual exploitation of a disabled family member.

Troy Hickman, 59, of Canton, was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of exploitation and intimidation of a disabled adult. He pleaded guilty to the crimes in May.

Hickman was arrested after an intellectually disabled woman he abused for years – beginning when she was 18 – told a friend about the acts last year, FOX 5 Atlanta reported. The friend then reported Hickman to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies learned Hickman and the victim spent a lot of time alone together during the years he was abusing her, the outlet reported, and she gave specific details about the sexual acts to investigators with the Anna Crawford Children’s Center.

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Troy Dean Hickman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he was convicted for repeated sexual exploitation of a disabled family member. (Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office)

“Victims of sexual assault are often afraid to come forward, and that was certainly the case here. The victim is intellectually disabled and had been subjected to repeated threats of harm by this defendant as he attempted to prevent her from revealing the abuse. She bravely overcame that fear by seeking help,” Assistant District Attorney Elliot Stone of the Domestic Violence Unit said in a statement. 

Stone said Hickman confessed to his crimes, but he blamed alcohol for his behavior and “even suggested that the victim was partly to blame.”

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The victim told a friend about the abuse last year and the friend reported it to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. (Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office)

Hickman was sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole, followed by probation for the rest of his life. 

He is prohibited from having contact with the victim and her family, and will have to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation, receive treatment for substance abuse and adhere to sex offender special conditions.

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“The victim looked to this defendant as a father figure, and it is despicable that he would manipulate her trust and vulnerability for his own sexual desires,” District Attorney Susan K. Treadaway said in a statement. “Our hope is the victim and her family will find peace and healing in knowing that this defendant has received justice for his crimes and that he will never again be able to hurt another individual in this way.”