COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A man has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in Lexington County of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
It took a jury less than an hour to reach a guilty verdict in the trial of Bryan Jeffrey Ellis, 30. He was convicted of two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
Lexington County Judge R. Knox McMahon sentenced Ellis to life in prison. Ellis will never be eligible for parole.
According to 11th Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard, Ellis abused a 7-year-old girl "over a series of assaults." The Lexington County Sheriff's Department began investigating Ellis after the victim told a family member of the incidents. Investigators say Ellis admitted both verbally and via a written statement he had "sexually assaulted the child on multiple occasions."
Now 9 years old, the victim testified in Ellis' trial. Her family members also testified that Ellis admitted the assaults when they confronted him.
Evidence recovered from Ellis' smart phone revealed he 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, McMahon spoke of the child victim's stolen innocence and the actions of Ellis as a "predator." He described the life sentence as a necessary measure to protect the community and ensure that Ellis will not harm additional victims.
Ellis is now in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections.