Orange County pastor facing multiple child molestation charges

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- A pastor who has worked at three Orange County churches is facing charges he molested children, some as young as 5, on multiple occasions over a period of at least 14 years.

John Rodgers McFarland, 67, was arrested last week and has been 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.

The alleged victims were seven children, ranging in age from 5 to 15 years old, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. The molestation allegedly occurred from 2003 to 2017.

McFarland is being held on $2 million bail. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum sentence of 179 years to life in prison.

He made his first appearance in court Monday but his arraignment was continued and no plea was entered.

McFarland had served most recently as head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist in Fullerton.

Previously, he was head pastor at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church for 26 years, from 1988 until 2016. He was also a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach from 2009 until 2014.

He was also a youth pastor at the San Dieguito Methodist Church in Encinitas from 1978 to 1981.

His first posting as a senior pastor was at Calexico United Methodist Church in Calexico, from 1981 to 1988.

McFarland was also arrested late last year on a separate case. Escondido police arrested him on Dec. 18 stemming from abuse of at least one young girl.

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A pastor who has worked at three Orange County churches was arrested on suspicion of child molestation.

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