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Rock Harbor families allege abuse

Church volunteer is suspected of sexually abusing at least three children; inappropriate conduct is alleged with a fourth. Pastors discuss charges at meeting Monday night.

December 03, 2012|By Jeremiah Dobruck
  • Christopher Bryan McKenzie
Christopher Bryan McKenzie (Daily Pilot )

A Sunday school volunteer at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa allegedly formed relationships with children in his church and went on to sexually abuse at least one of them multiple times between November 2009 and November 2011, according to church leaders and court documents.

Two families at Rock Harbor came forward with new allegations against Christopher Bryan McKenzie, the pool cleaner accused of years-long sexual relationships with at least three children younger than 14, pastors said Monday night.

McKenzie, 48, of Costa Mesa, attended Rock Harbor and applied to be a child-care volunteer at the 3,000-member campus in late 2007, Communications Director Jeff Gideon said.

On Saturday, Newport Beach police announced they had arrested McKenzie on suspicion of sexually abusing two boys, one from the late 1990s to 2005 and one from 2005 to 2007. Neither had ties to the church, police said.

At a Monday night meeting, Rock Harbor pastors announced two families from the congregation added allegations against McKenzie.

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Lead Pastor Todd Proctor said the families approached Rock Harbor leadership after the announcement and were directed to police.

It's alleged McKenzie had substantial sexual conduct with one of the children on at least three occasions, according to court documents.

In total, McKenzie is charged with inappropriate interaction with four children. The fourth, who pastors said is also from Rock Harbor, was allegedly used to distribute obscene material.

Pastors told congregants Monday that they don't believe McKenzie had inappropriate contact with any children at the church or during a church function. Volunteers are never allowed to be alone with children, Proctor said.

However, he said, leaders believe McKenzie most likely met the children and formed relationships with their parents at Rock Harbor where he volunteered in a fifth-grade classroom for about five years.

At Rock Harbor, all child-care applicants are background checked, screened on the Megan's Law website, must produce references and are interviewed, leaders said.

McKenzie pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol in 2007. Gideon said the team conducting a background check was not informed of the incident. If a crime does appear on a volunteer’s application, a committee weighs the severity and how much time has elapsed, Gideon said.

McKenzie was ultimately granted approval to volunteer.

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