A 24-year-old Howard County man admitted in federal court that he sexually abused a young girl, broadcast live images of her over the Internet and sent sexually explicit photos of the child to at least three people online.

Jeffrey Trantham, 24, of Ellicott City, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to sexually exploiting a child to produce child pornography and possession of child pornography.

According to court papers, Howard County police officers searched Trantham’s home in December 2009 after they learned that someone in Canada received images of a man who appeared to be Trantham sexually abusing a child.

Trantham later admitted that he abused the girl in August and September 2009, according to a plea agreement. Prosecutors said in court papers he told the girl to keep the contact a secret “because he would get in trouble and have to go to jail for a very long time.”

Federal authorities said in court papers that more than 600 images of child pornography were found on Trantham’s computer. Many of the images portrayed “sadistic or masochistic conduct, or other depictions of violence,” according to the plea agreement.

Trantham is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13, federal authorities said. They said a conviction for producing child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 30 years, and a conviction for possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Trantham must register as a sex offender.