St. Helena Island man sentenced to life in prison for sex abuse - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

St. Helena Island man gets life in prison for sex abuse

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BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) -

A 37-year-old St. Helena Island man received lived in prison for the sexual abuse of two boys over a two-year period.

The jury deliberated for six hours and returned their verdict Thursday night.  James Simmons Jr. was convicted of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, according to the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office. The abuse occurred from 2009 to 2010 at a home on Seaside Road when the boys 7 to 9 years old.

In 2011, the victims told to a family member that they had been abused by Simmons while they were in his care, according to the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office. The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office was contacted. Specialists at Hope Haven interviewed the victims. Simmons was arrested and charged in 2012.

Simmons faced at least 25 years in prison. Judge Carmen Mullen issued the maximum sentence of life in prison. He had prior convictions for criminal domestic violence and malicious injury to personal property.

"One of our jobs as prosecutors is to protect the most vulnerable in our society," said assistant solicitor Mary Jordan Lempesis. "I am proud of the children in this case for having the courage to tell their story and to prevent this dangerous man from hurting anyone else. The jury carefully deliberated the facts of this case and delivered a verdict that ensured these children's bravery would be rewarded with justice."

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