According to the Orange County District Attorney, a male nanny was convicted of 34 charges last week and faces life in prison for assaulting 16 boys between the ages of 2 and 12, showing pornography to a 17th, and creating his own child pornography.
According to charge records, an investigation into Matthew Antonio Zakrzewski, 34, was begun in May 2019 when a family in Laguna Beach, California, reported to authorities he had abused their 8-year-old son. Many additional victims victimised between 2014 and 2019 were identified in the ensuing inquiry thanks to camera evidence and public tips.
“It was actually sickening to me and the rest of the detectives – we put all of our focus into this investigation,” Laguna Beach Police Sergeant Jim Cota told KTLA after the initial arrest.
According to the news announcement, Zakrzewski faces 690 years to life in prison, plus an extra eight years. According to charging records acquired by Fox News Digital, his bail was set at $1 million.
Zakrzewski was a “mastermind at preying upon these families, not just grooming the children but grooming the parents,” said Deputy District Attorney Juliet Oliver in final statements reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
He was a founder member of “Sitter Buddy,” a website that connects Orange County parents with potential carers. Zakrzewski described himself on his profile as a “manny” who provided mentorships, big brother connections, and overnight and vacation babysitting.
He also stated that he was experienced with youngsters with special needs and behavioural issues.
“At a very early age, I discovered what a joy it was to work with children and be a positive impact in their lives through the ‘Buddy Program’ at my middle school,” read his profile, which has since been taken down from the site. “Now, I’m a career manny and my 6+ years childcare experience spans from ages 3 months to 14, including special needs… I think the reason I connect easily with kids is because I am not just there to supervise, I participate.”
On the profile, the “manny” is shown shirtless and smiling with a bunch of young lads in a pool.
According to the mother of the first victim, there were “lots of reviews saying [Zakrzewski] was a wonderful carer” and “there just looked like a lot of joy.”
On Tuesday, Zakrzewski was convicted of 34 felony charges, including lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14, oral copulation of a child under 10, possession of child pornography, using a minor for sex acts, distributing pornography to a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct, and attempted lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14.
According to the complaint, many victims were abused multiple times.
“These parents were led to believe that they could trust this man with the most precious thing in their entire world – their children,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer wrote in a press release from August 2019, before the total number of victims had come forward. “Instead, he preyed on these innocent boys and violated that trust in a vile and sadistic way.”
Spitzer stated in a news statement this week that Zakrzewski’s young victims “were forced to endure unimaginable terror as a result of the ultimate betrayal by a babysitter.”
“These parents thought they were hiring a trusted caregiver for their children while they went on family vacations, date nights, and for other childcare needs; instead they were unknowingly letting a monster walk into their homes and prey upon their innocent children in the vilest way,” he continued.
In other cases, victims “really loved the defendant,” Oliver said jurors, and were abused “without even knowing it was wrong.”
When a 7-year-old victim was shown Zakrzewski’s photo, he burst into tears, and it became evident that “the person he [thought] was his friend, his buddy, his mentor]” wouldn’t be babysitting him longer, Oliver said in court.
The babysitter spent “years grooming, normalising, and perfecting the art of sexually exploiting these children” and “hunted every child” as if he “had a how-to book on it.”
“He fooled everyone,” she said on Monday. “He fooled every parent. He fooled every child. And he fooled every victim.”
Prosecutors said Zakrzewski obsessively filmed his crimes and collected a massive stockpile of images and films he’d captured “like a treasure, like some sort of medal.”
The counsel for Zakrzewski could not be reached for comment. According to online court records, he has a sentencing hearing planned for November 17.