BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A former spokesman for the Birmingham Police Department was sentenced to more than two decades in prison on a rape conviction Monday.

A Jefferson County judge sentenced former police Lt. Peter Williston, 50, during a hearing in which the former officer broke down and asked for mercy.

Williston received about 21 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing a female relative earlier this year, news outlets reported.

Prosecutors said the abuse occurred over a period of several years when the victim was a teenager. The defense claimed the two were engaged in a consenting relationship.

Williston told Circuit Judge Stephen Wallace he was wrong to have been involved with the young woman. “It’s caused more pain than I could have ever imagined,” he said.

Wallace sentenced Williston to the maximum term.

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