FALL RIVER — A Fall River man who groomed a young girl for inappropriate sexual encounters and then molested her has been sentenced to prison.

Eric Smith, 39, was convicted last week of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14. His trial lasted eight days. Following his conviction, Fall River Superior Court Judge Thomas McGuire sentenced Smith to serve five to ten years in state prison.

During the trial, the victim testified that Smith had groomed her for several years before forcing her to masturbate him while they watched pornography together.

The abuse ended in 2013, but did not come to the attention to other family members and the authorities until 2017 when the victim's brother found out about it. The brother reported the incidents to police.

“The defendant took advantage of his position of trust with the victim and sexually abused her," said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn in a statement. "This was a very difficult case to prosecute and I commend the prosecution team for their efforts in obtaining a conviction. I hope the victim can move forward with her life."