With incredibly heavy hearts, we informed our families about a serious incident involving someone from within our church community. Chris McKenzie, an attendee and Family Ministries volunteer at our Costa Mesa campus, was arrested on November 30, 2012, after allegations of inappropriate contact with two minors were made against him.
While neither of the alleged victims are part of the RH community nor is there evidence of any further misconduct ever taking place within any RH gathering, this situation requires all of our parents to enter into difficult conversations with our children. Whether or not your children knew Chris, our desire is that all of our parents would speak to their children about this kind of situation or perhaps even this specific situation. The reality is that Chris was a well-known and committed volunteer, and many of our staff, volunteers, families, and children have interacted with him. Here are some things to address:
- Tell your kids about what’s happened.
- If your kids are part of RHCM, tell them that Chris will no longer be in their classrooms.
- Ask your kids about any interactions they’ve had with Chris. We recommend seeking professional counsel on how to approach this conversation. You can find RAINN’s [Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network] suggested approach here.
- Be proactive about having conversations with your kids about what constitutes appropriate contact and what constitutes inappropriate contact with an adult.
- Always be on the lookout for any of the following warning signs from your children:
- Changes in mood and behavior: Abused children can appear more aggressive, scared, anxious, depressed or withdrawn.
- Changes in eating or sleeping: Stress, fear, and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to weight gain or loss, frequent nightmares, difficulty sleeping or extreme fatigue.
- Changes in school performance and attendance: Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences. A child may also present as an overachiever and possibly be hyper-vigilant about grades or school activities.
- Lack of personal care or hygiene: Children may appear uncared for or exhibit poor hygiene
- Risk-taking behaviors: Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol, carrying a weapon or overly sexualized behavior.
This Monday, December 3 at 7pm at RHCM, we’ll be holding a gathering specifically for our families that are having conversations with their kids about this situation. This will be a night to equip our parents in what questions to ask and how to spiritually lead their kids and families through this difficult time.
If you would like to seek more extensive professional counsel on this issue, ROCKHARBOR recommends the following counselors and resources:
- CIFT: 714-558-9266 [Children, Families, Adults]
- Linda Bagley: 949-872-7948 [Children, Families, Adults]
- Lisa Hartman: 949-922-2774 [Adult Abuse Victims]
- Jenna Flowers: 714-310-9050 [Adult Abuse Victims Women]
- Michael Jilke: 949-322-9120 [Family Counseling]
- Catherine Ross: 949-378-3802 [Family Counseling]
- Brandon Pendergraft: 714-589-2433 [Family Counseling]
- Mark Howerton: 949-933-6275 [Adult Men]
Find out more
If you have any questions about Monday’s gathering, please contact Tommy Larson.
If you have any generic questions about RH’s response to this situation, please email Stacy Scott.
If you have any media inquiries, please contact Jeff Gideon.
If you need to speak with someone at the Newport Beach Police Department, please contact Detective Penny Freeman.