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O.C. church volunteer accused of abusing boys pleads not guilty

A Costa Mesa Sunday school volunteer and pool cleaner accused of sexually abusing young boys pleaded not guilty Friday to 16 felony counts he faces.

During his arraignment at Orange County Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Christopher Bryan McKenzie denied charges that he abused four boys, including at least two he met through Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa.

Newport Beach police arrested McKenzie in November on suspicion of sexually abusing two boys, one over a period from the late 1990s to 2005 and the other from 2005 to 2007.

Two families from Rock Harbor then came forward with allegations that two more boys were abused between November 2009 and November 2011.

McKenzie, 49, is a pool cleaner from Costa Mesa. He applied to be a child-care volunteer at Rock Harbor in late 2007, the church's communication director, Jeff Gideon, has said.

McKenzie faces 10 felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old, four felony counts of using a minor for the distribution of obscene matter, and two felony counts of distributing pornography to a minor with sentencing enhancement allegations for substantial sexual conduct with a child, and committing lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old against more than one victim.

If convicted, McKenzie faces up to 45 years to life in state prison.

He is due back in court March 15 for a pretrial hearing, court records show.

-- Jeremiah Dobruck, Times Community News

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