Solicitor: Man sentenced to life for sexually abusing two boys

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WCIV) -- A 37-year-old St. Helena Island man will spend the rest of hislife in prison after being convicted for sexually abusing two boys over a two-year period, according to the solicitor.

Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Duffy Stone said the jury deliberated for almost six hours before convicting James Simmons, Jr.of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Stone said the abusewas ongoing from 2009 to 2010 at a home on Seaside Road when the boys were seven tonine-years-old.

The victims reported the abuse to family members in 2011, Stone said in a press release and{} Simmons was arrested and charged in 2012.

"One of our jobs asprosecutors is to protect the most vulnerable in our society," said assistantsolicitor Mary Jordan Lempesis. "I am proud of the children in this case forhaving the courage to tell their story and to prevent this dangerous man fromhurting anyone else. The jury carefully deliberated the facts of this case anddelivered a verdict that ensured these children's bravery would be rewardedwith justice."

Stone said based on the charges, Simmonsfaced a minimum of 25 years in prison, but at the end of the three-daytrial, the judge handed down the maximum sentence, life in prison.

Stone said Simmons had prior convictionsfor criminal domestic violence and malicious injury to personal property.