A 51-year-old former volunteer Sunday school teacher at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa and Christ Church by the Sea in Newport Beach was convicted Wednesday afternoon of sexually assaulting five boys and attempting to attack a sixth.
Actually, there could have been a seventh victim, but the boy was unable to make it back from South Africa to testify against Christopher Bryan McKenzie Sr., who nonetheless faces at least 135 years to life in prison and up to 160 years at his scheduled Sept. 4 sentencing in Santa Ana, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown.
The Costa Mesa resident met three victims through Rock Harbor, one through Christ Church by the Sea, two through relatives and one at his Costa Mesa apartment complex, Brown told City News Service's Paul Anderson. Each boy was under 14 at the time of their attack, which happened between March 1995 and January 2012, the prosecutor said.
McKenzie worked as a swimming pool cleaner and hired several of the victims as helpers, according to Brown, who added that in many cases he would show a youth a note he claimed was left on his car at a job from an artist offering to pay the children to pose nude for a sculpture.
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When McKenzie got some of the boys alone, he rubbed them down with baby oil to get them aroused for the photos, said the prosecutor, who added he paid them $50 each. When one boy refused the adult's advances, McKenzie said, "Are you ashamed of the body God gave you?"
He was busted in December 2012 after a victim told Newport Beach Police what the sick Sunday school teacher did. Investigators went on to find about 350 images on McKenzie's computer of children engaging in sex acts with adults and other children.
His defense attorney denied the charges, claiming McKenzie was a devout Christian who was "shocked" by the allegations. It took jurors less than a day to decide otherwise. They found him guilty of 10 felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old, one felony count of attempted lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old, four felony counts of using a minor for sex acts, two felony count of attempting to use a minor for sex acts, two felony counts of distributing pornography to a minor, and one felony count of possession of child pornography with sentencing enhancements for substantial sexual conduct with a child and committing lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old against more than one victim.