The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
John McFarland, pastor of Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton, California, stands accused of sexually assaulting seven children. Prior to his tenure at Orangethorpe, McFarland was the pastor of Surf City Church in Huntington Beach from 2011 to 2016, Fountain Valley United Methodist Church in Fountain Valley from 1988 to 2016, and from 1981 to 1988, he was the pastor of Calexico United Methodist Church in Calexico — all located in California. McFarland was also a chaplain for 20 years for the Fountain Valley Police Department until his retirement a few years ago.
A press release from the office of the District Attorney of Orange County states:
A man who served as a head pastor at several Southern California churches faces 11 child molestation charges for victimizing seven children ranging in age from five to 15 years old.
John Rodgers McFarland, 67, of Fullerton was arrested on May 9, 2019. He is charged with seven felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, and four felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor between the ages of 14 and 15.
Prosecutors allege the molestations for the current offenses occurred between 2003 and 2017.
McFarland is currently being held on $2 million bail at the Orange County Jail. He faces a maximum sentence of 179 years to life if convicted on all counts.
The defendant was previously arrested on suspicion of child molestation in Escondido last December after a girl came forward to report the alleged abuse, according to the Fountain Valley Police Department.
During the investigation into that case, police said they uncovered “evidence that McFarland abused other victims.”
He was arrested again Thursday, according to the DA’s office.
McFarland is suspected of abusing the children between 2003 and 2017, during which time he served as a pastor at several churches in Orange and San Diego counties, prosecutors said.