Menu Close

Black Collar Crime: Methodist Pastor John McFarland Sentenced to 15 Years to Life for Sex Crimes

pastor john mcfarland

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.

Previous posts about McFarland can be read here and here.

John McFarland, pastor of Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton, California, was charged with sexually assaulting seven children. Before 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.

Fox-11 reported at the time:

John Rodgers McFarland, who has been the head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton since 2014, was arrested on a warrant Thursday charging him with seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14 and four counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor 14 to 15 years old.

The 56-year-old Fullerton resident is accused of molesting the children between 2003 and 2017, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, which did not release the genders of the alleged victims.


McFarland, who’s being held in the Orange County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail, faces up to 179 years to life in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

In San Diego County, McFarland was arrested and charged in December with molesting a girl younger than 14 in Escondido between 2012 and 2013. The alleged molestation occurred when he was visiting relatives, said Lt. Chris Lick of the Escondido Police Department.

McFarland is due in court in San Diego June 18 for a pretrial hearing and July 9 for a preliminary hearing, according to Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the D.A.’s office in San Diego County.

Last week, McFarland pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for his crimes.

The LA Times reports:

McFarland initially pleaded not guilty to all charges in 2019. In response to his guilty plea Friday, he received a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison with 12 other sentences to run concurrently. He was also ordered to pay restitution, be tested for HIV/AIDS and participate in an AIDS prevention program, court documents indicate.

McFarland is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 22 for a firearms relinquishment hearing at the West Justice Center in Westminster.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.


  1. Avatar
    Dennis Russell

    I knew McFarland when he was pastor at Fountain Valley Methodist. I was homeless at the time and was in a program that we would stay at churches for 2 weeks at a time. FV Methodist was one. Got to know him and he was friendly to me. Never saw or heard about this when we were there. He treated me quite well. This shocked the hell out of me. Kids were probably intimidated as he’s 6’8″ and over 300 pounds. I feel for those kids.

  2. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Evangelicalism, belief systems that convince people they are born evil set the stage for a life of denial of humanity that can easily (as we so often read here) lead to preachers who lovingly help a homeless guy in one room and then go next door and abuse a child. Such is the mindfuck… Oops!—> Forgive me! Oops!—> I’ll never do it again, I promise! Forgive me!

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away! If You Are a First Time Commenter, Please Read the Comment Policy Located at the Top of the Page.

Bruce Gerencser