PASADENA — A jury found a Nickelodeon Studios animator guilty Friday of one misdemeanor count of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old boy and one felony count of offering to show pornography to the boy.
But the 12-person jury was split on a third charge of showing, sending or distributing harmful material, and found Ezel Channel not guilty of touching a second boy at Nickelodeon, his attorney Thomas White said.
Channel, 39, of Tarzana was accused of luring two teenage boys into his workplace, showing them pornography and inappropriately touching them in November 2005. Channel was charged with two felony counts of lewd acts with a child under 14 and two counts of showing, sending or distributing harmful material.
“These charges are so easily made and so hard to retract,” White said.
Channel was grateful that the jury didn’t find him guilty on all charges, “but he was also so traumatized and is in shock,” White said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Maribelle Estrella told jurors Thursday during her closing argument that Channel, a convicted sex officer, used the fact that he was working at Nickelodeon to attract a 13-year-old boy and 14-year-old boy, whose names are being withheld because they are minors, so he could seduce them.
“This was like a modern-day ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’” she said. “Except for [the boys’ names], Channel offered them more than just chocolate.”
He was arrested Dec. 15, 2005, after the 14-year-old boy reported to police that Channel allegedly tried to show him a pornographic movie on his computer while the boy visited him at Nickelodeon.
The boy testified that Channel molested him while he was in a car with him and Channel let him drive the car afterward, Estrella said. The boy testified that he often visited Channel at night at Nickelodeon and there wasn’t security.
Police later discovered that Channel showed a 13-year-old boy a pornographic movie at his workplace and touched him inappropriately, she said.
“He used the boys’ interests in Nickelodeon to reel them in,” Estrella said.
She told jurors that in deciding Channel’s fate, they must use their own common sense and understand his intent, which, she said, was to use the boys for his own sexual advantage.
Channel was friendly with the boys and often told them they were his “little brothers,” Estrella said.
“They had an adult friend trying to act like one of them,” she said.
Channel testified during the trial that the boys showed up to his work unannounced, Estrella said.
White told jurors Channel met the boys when he was playing basketball with his team and the boys approached him, White said.
The prosecution, he said, was trying to paint a sinister image of Channel.
Channel couldn’t have shown pornographic movies to boys or molested them, White said, because there are many security cameras at Nickelodeon.
White told jurors that the 13-year-old boy touched himself inappropriately while watching a pornographic movie on Channel’s computer without his permission and Channel caught him.
“Mr. Channel didn’t provide it,” he said. “It was on the Internet.”
Channel told the boys never to return to Nickelodeon, White said.
“These kids — they were the ones that befriended Mr. Channel,” he said.