Youth pastor Brandon Ernis Lee McDade pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday to molesting five boys under the age of 16 on Grace Hills Church property in Aliso Viejo.
The 30-year-old, who resides in Laguna Hills or Mission Viejo (depending on if you believe his Facebook profile or the Orange County District Attorney’s office respectively), also molested one of the boys at an Orange County movie theater and another at a San Bernardino County camp, during church-sponsored youth trips, according to prosecutors.
The alleged crimes happened between June 2009 and this past December, the OCDA claims. Sheriff’s deputies who’d been contacted by an alleged victim’s parent arrested McDade on Dec. 9, and he was released from jail after making his $20,000 bail. But an additional victim was discovered in the ongoing investigation after the arrest, the OCDA claims.
McDade was taken back into custody in lieu of $1 million bail, and he has a pre-trial hearing scheduled in Newport Beach on Feb. 5, the OCDA says.
He pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of committing lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14, four felony counts of committing lewd acts upon a child between the ages of 14 and 15, two misdemeanor counts of child annoyance, and sentencing enhancement allegations for committing lewd acts upon multiple victims.
If convicted, McDade faces up to 30 years to life in state prison and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.
Defense attorney Jorge Ledezma told City News Service his client “adamantly denies the allegations made against him.”
“We are currently in the process of conducting our own independent investigation,” Ledezma added. “We trust that at the end of our investigation, we will be able to present evidence of Mr. McDade’s innocence. However, it should be noted that some of the alleged incidents of abuse took place several years ago, according to the charging complaint. It is fair to say then that the memories of some of these complaining witnesses may be compromised due to lapse of time.”
Originally from Banning, McDade is not the only member of his family in church service. His brother John McDade is director of operations at Chapel of Change in Paramount. Based on their mother’s Facebook page, she is very religious as well.
Brandon McDade is certainly charismatic as he talks about God, as demonstrated here in one of the many videos he’s has uploaded to YouTube: