LAFAYETTE, La. — A federal judge has sentenced a former soldier stationed in Louisiana to life in prison for sexually abusing a girl for years, starting when she was less than 12 years old.

Judge Jay Zainey also ordered 41-year-old Ronald W. Allen Jr. to pay $72,000 restitution, Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook said in a news release Tuesday.

Evidence during a two-day trial in August 2019 showed that Allen abused the girl numerous times from April 2012 until June 2016 at Fort Polk, where he lived.

She finally told someone at a school she was attending near the Army base about the abuse, authorities said. DNA evidence matched Allen’s, the news release said.

Jurors deliberated about 30 minutes, convicting Allen of both sexual abuse of a minor and aggravated sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. The life sentence was for the second charge; sexual abuse of a minor carries up to 15 years, according to the Justice Department news release about the conviction.

“This sentence sends a clear message that those who abuse children will be brought to justice. These crimes are particularly heinous because children put their trust in adults and especially those who serve in the United States military,” Van Hook said.

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