Canton man convicted of rape at knifepoint sentenced to life in prison

<div>Mariano Delfino Diego-Tercero (Credit: Cherokee County Sheriffs Office)</div>
Mariano Delfino Diego-Tercero (Credit: Cherokee County Sheriffs Office)

CANTON, Ga. - A Canton man accused of sexually assaulting a woman at knifepoint has been sentenced to life behind bars.

Mariano Diego-Tercero, 35, was convicted of rape, criminal attempt to commit rape and two counts of aggravated assault on Feb. 2 for an offense police say took place in Nov. 2022.

The victim, who knew Diego-Tercero before the incident, told police he put a knife to her neck and forced himself on her. A second woman came forward during the trial and testified to being targeted by Diego-Tercero in a similar predatory act.

The jury deliberated for three hours before finding him guilty of all charges.

Assistant District Attorney Alana Driscoll of the Special Victims Unit released the following statement after his conviction:

"Mariano Diego-Tercero used power and control to manipulate the woman in this case, raping her, stripping her of dignity, and shaming her into silence. It took incredible bravery for this young woman to come forward to report these crimes, and it took 12 members of our community to see the truth and convict this man for what he is, a rapist.

"This defendant is nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He found a vulnerable young woman, and he preyed upon her. He created a façade, portraying himself as an older Christian man, like a brother, just wanting to help the less fortunate."

Diego-Tercero will serve at least 30 years in prison before he's eligible for parole. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and is forbidden to contact the victim or her family in any way.