Lexington County, SC (WLTX) -- A Lexington County man convicted of child sexual assault has been sentenced to life in prison, according to Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard
A jury deliberated less than an hour before finding Bryan Jeffrey Ellis, 30, guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, according to the solicitor.
Judge R. Knox McMahon then imposed a life sentence on Ellis with a consecutive sentence of 15 years. Under state law, the life sentence means that Ellis will never be eligible for parole.
“The loss of innocence is something you can never get back and will not be tolerated in Lexington County," said Solicitor Hubbard. "The sentence today sends a clear message."
Prosecutors say Ellis sexually assaulted a 7-year-old girl on multiple occasions. The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation on January 24, 2016, after the girl told a family member about the abuse and a 911 call was placed. Ellis later admitted to the sexual assaults.
Ellis' confession, seven pages in length and in his own handwriting, was offered as evidence during the trial. Family members of the child also testified that Ellis admitted his guilt to them when they confronted him.
The child victim, now age 9, testified during the trial and identified Ellis as having assaulted her numerous times.
Evidence recovered from Ellis' smart phone revealed that Ellis was using the device to research information on sex addiction less than two hours before giving his confession to law enforcement.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge McMahon spoke of the child's "stolen innocence" and called Ellis a “predator.” He described the life sentence as a "necessary measure to protect the community" and ensure that Ellis will not harm additional victims in the future.
Ellis is being transferred to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin his sentence immediately, according to Solicitor Hubbard.
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