A Costa Mesa nanny who sexually abused sixteen boys and showed pornography to a 17th child was sentenced Friday afternoon to 707 years and eight months to life in prison.
The lengthy prison sentence given to Matthew Zakrzewski, 34, came a month after an Orange County Superior Court jury found the defendant guilty of 34 counts following a nearly month-long trial in a Santa Ana courtroom.
Zakrzewski – who describes himself as a “man” – filmed numerous assault crimes, footage that prosecutors relied heavily on as evidence during his trial.
The sentence means he will have to serve at least 707 years before being eligible for parole.
Parents initially said they were impressed with Zakrzewski and his background, as well as his relationship with their boys. But Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger noted that Zakrzewski took advantage of his parents’ view of him as “perfect, smart, fun and moral” in order to have unrestricted access to the boys and manipulate them into not saying anything about the abuse. .
“They thought you were the only provider for their children,” the judge said. “The truth is, you abused that trust all along.”
“We saw you turn sexual assault into a game,” the judge added, referring to video evidence shown to jurors during the trial.
Parents of young victims described being blindsided when the abuse came to light and feeling betrayed by a man they learned had groomed and molested their children. Zakrzewski appeared to listen attentively as the family members spoke.
“Was it worth it?” » A mother asked Zakrzewski. “Did you get what you wanted? I don’t see how you thought things were going to turn out any other way. What did you think was going to happen? You were going to get caught eventually. And all of our lives were going to be destroyed .
Several parents spoke of the guilt they still feel about introducing Zakrzewski into their children’s lives. One mother said her son developed ulcers at age 8 amid the abuse.
“The weight of carrying this secret was literally eating away at him,” she said.
Another mother – whose boy was molested by Zakrzewski shortly before or sometime after his third birthday – said she was unable to “quantify or even qualify the impact on our lives…
“Our boy was so little, I can’t know what else he could have been,” the woman said. “I can’t meet the boy he would have become.”
Zakrzewski, in brief remarks to the families and the judge, said he always wanted the boys who were once in his temporary care to “shine brightly.”
“I have pondered their views, I have paid close attention to the trial and their statements today and it brings me a lot of pain,” Zakrzewski said. “I am proud to bring smiles to your children and all the good times we shared were 100 percent genuine.”
Over a five-year period beginning in 2014, Zakrzewski cared for the children of more than a dozen families across Southern California, often convincing them to hire him by touting his experience working with children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disorders. His victims included boys with special needs, according to testimony heard during the trial.
Zakrzewski was arrested by Laguna Beach police in May 2019, after a boy told his parents that his nanny had molested him.
Laguna Beach detectives soon learned that another boy had accused Zakrzewski of similar behavior in Los Angeles a year earlier. This boy initially refused to speak to an interviewer after telling his mother about the alleged abuse. But in a second interview after Zakrzewski’s arrest, the boy described that Zakrzewski had assaulted him.
Detectives found “thousands of photos and thousands of videos” that Zakrzewski had taken of the boys he was watching on his cell phone, digital camera and computer. Prosecutors described him as “obsessively” recording “every act with the children.”
After news of Zakrzewski’s arrest became public, more families came forward to accuse him of molesting their children.
Zakrzewski’s lawyer acknowledged during the trial that Zakrzewski showed pornography to some of the boys, but argued that some of the things he recorded — including children “running” in their underwear — did not constitute a “harmful” matter as the criminal charges claimed.