A 34-year-old Costa Mesa man who was hired as a nanny for families across Southern California, including Laguna Beach, was sentenced on Friday, Nov. 17, to 705 years to life, plus two years and eight months for sexually assaulting 16 boys and showing a 17th boy child pornography with the intent to also sexually assault him, authorities said.
Matthew Antonio Zakrzewski was arrested on May 17, 2019 by Laguna Beach Police Department detectives at a local airport after deplaning an international flight.
“It has been a privilege and an honor for our investigations team and me to work this case,” Laguna Beach Lead Investigator Sergeant D. Gensemer said. “Zakrzewski took the most precious of possessions from these children, their innocence. The true heroes were the parents and children who endured through the justice system to the end.”
Zakrzewski was initially charged with three felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14 years old and one felony count of oral copulation of a child under 10. He was also charged with one felony count of possession of child pornography.
After the first criminal charges were filed, investigators asked for the public’s help to find other potential victims. As the investigation progressed, additional victims were identified through video evidence and tips from the public, resulting in additional charges being filed against Zakrzewski, Laguna Beach Police stated.
Zakrzewski was ultimately charged with a total of 34 felony counts, including 27 felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, two felony counts of oral copulation of a child under the age of 10, and one felony count of possession of child pornography, the District Attorney’s Office said.
He also faced one felony count of using a minor for sex acts, two felony counts of distributing pornography to a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct, and one felony count of an attempted lewd or lascivious act with a minor under the age of 14, officials said.
Zakrzewski was convicted of all 34 felonies.
During the victim impact statements in court on Nov. 17, parents of the victimized boys expressed their anger at the deception Zakrzewski engaged in to gain access to their children, including comparing Zakrzewski to an animal they blamed themselves for letting into their homes, court documents said.
The mother of a boy who was 2-years-old when he was molested by Zakrzewski wore a backpack with her son’s photograph on it while she gave her victim impact statement, her voice cracking as she described her heartbreak over never being able to meet who her little boy should have been if he hadn’t been subjected to the trauma of being sexually assaulted, the DA’s Office reported.
Court documents stated Zakrzewski didn’t apologize for his actions.
“I prided myself on bringing smiles to your children, and all the good times we shared were 100 percent genuine,” he said as several parents covered their ears and wept as he spoke, the DA’s Office said.
In early May 2019, a Laguna Beach couple reported to Laguna Beach police that their babysitter, Zakrzewski, had touched their eight-year-old son inappropriately and was concerned for the safety of their son and potentially other children.
The couple had hired Zakrzewski to care for their eight-year-old child through one of his several babysitting websites.
The Laguna Beach Police Department’s Major Crimes & Intelligence Unit immediately opened an investigation, which led to the identification of a second seven-year-old victim in Los Angeles and ten more boys from Southern California, officials said.
“This is a case of shattered innocence and precious childhoods that were robbed from 17 little boys. These children will never know the people they were truly intended to be – because their childhoods were suddenly and inexplicably interrupted not by a wolf at the door, but by a predator masquerading as godsend,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.