A St. Helena Island man was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for sexually abusing two boys. James Simmons, Jr., 37, was found guilty in a Beaufort County court of two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor. The abuse was ongoing from 2009 to 2010 at a home on Seaside Road when the two boys were 7 to 9 years old, according to officials with the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

In 2011, the boys told a family member Simmons had abused them while in his care, according to prosecutors. Simmons was arrested last year.

“One of our jobs as prosecutors is to protect the most vulnerable in our society,” said assistant solicitor Mary Jordan Lempesis in a statement. “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.”

Simmons had prior convictions for criminal domestic violence and malicious injury to personal property.