Image via Wikimedia Commons

A former volunteer Sunday school teacher in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting five boys and attempting to attack a sixth victim.

Christopher Bryan McKenzie, who is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 4, faces at least 135 years to life in prison, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown.

McKenzie had been charged with crims involving seven victims, but one boy was unable to make it back from South Africa to testify against the defendant, Brown said.

Jurors began deliberations late Tuesday and reached verdicts right after lunch today.

McKenzie taught Sunday school at Christ Church by the Sea in Newport Beach from 2004 to 2006 and at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa. He met three of his alleged victims through Rock Harbor, one through Christ Church by the Sea, two through relatives and one at his apartment complex in Costa Mesa, according to Brown.

McKenzie also worked as a pool cleaner in Orange County, and he hired several of the victims as helpers, Brown said. In many of the cases, while on a job with one of the boys, he would show the youth a “note” he said was left on his car from an artist offering to pay the children to pose nude for a sculpture, Brown said.

When he got some of the boys alone, he rubbed them down with baby oil to get them aroused for the photos, the prosecutor said.

When one of the boys was working as an assistant on a pool-cleaning job and kicked a container full of chlorine, McKenzie “washed (the victim) down,” then told the youth he had received a letter from a sculptor who said the boy “had a really good body for sculpture,” Brown said.

“He convinced (the victim) this wasn’t weird, it was for art,” she told jurors.

The victims were all younger than 14, and the incidents happened between March 1995 and January 2012, Brown said.

The prosecutor said that when one boy refused the defendant’s advances, McKenzie said, “Are you ashamed of the body God gave you?”

The defendant paid the boys about $50 to pose in the nude for photos, according to Brown, who said investigators found about 350 images on McKenzie’s computer of children engaging in sex acts with adults and other children.

McKenzie’s attorney denied the charges. He said his client’s interest in the Bible took root when he was a young child and his grandmother would read scripture to him.

Defense attorney Darren Thompson told jurors at the outset of the trial that the defendant was “in shock at these allegations.”

— City News Service 

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