A MAN who repeatedly abused a young girl in the Bendigo area will spend at least three years in jail.
The 31-year-old was sentenced in the County Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to five counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16.
The court heard the man was 22 years old when he first met the young girl at an event in late 2011.
Between early 2012 and late 2013, the man repeatedly sexually abused the young girl in her home and in other places around the Bendigo area.
The abuse resulted in the young girl falling pregnant and having a miscarriage in mid-2013.
The victim told the court in a written statement that the man "stole" her normal childhood and took away her innocence.
The girl said she started using alcohol at 17 to cope with the abuse. She said she was now a diagnosed alcoholic and suffered with depression.
Defence counsel Dermot Dann QC last week told the court his client was a man of "prior good character", who successfully ran his own business, contributed to the community, and had two young children from a long-term relationship.
Mr Dann said the judge should take into consideration the man's early guilty plea, his "excellent" prospects of rehabilitation, and his evidence of remorse.
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Judge Michael Cahill told the court he accepted those mitigating factors and took them into consideration for sentencing.
But Judge Cahill said he also needed to regard the protection of the community and general deterrence.
The judge said the man had "exploited" the school girl for his own sexual gratification.
Judge Cahill said the offending was "persistent and protracted", and the victim's "willingness to engage did not pardon (the man's) behaviour".
The judge convicted and sentenced the man to six years and three months in jail, with a non-parole period of three years and three months.
If the man did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for eight years and six months with a non-parole period of five years and six months.
The 31-year-old man will be on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.
If you or someone you know needs support, contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292.
Editor's note: This story was updated on Wednesday, May 5 to correct the list of charges the man pleaded guilty to.
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