A pastor at a Fullerton church was in custody Tuesday and starting his sentence of 15 years to life after pleading guilty to molesting seven girls ages 5 to 15, according to court records.
John Rodgers McFarland, who had been the head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church from 2014 until his arrest in May 2019, pleaded guilty Friday to five counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14, four counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, and four counts of lewd acts on a child 14 or 15, all felonies.
As part of the plea deal, six more sentences of 15 years to life and six additional years behind bars will all run concurrently.
The 68-year-old pastor from Fullerton molested the girls between 2003 and 2017, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
According to an online biography, McFarland grew up in North San Diego County, where he was affiliated with San Marcos United Methodist Church. He graduated from the University of La Verne in 1974 and the Pacific School of Religion in 1978, then served as an associate pastor at San Dieguito United Methodist Church in Encinitas for three years before becoming pastor of the Calexico United Methodist Church in 1981.
McFarland was also a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach between 2009 and 2014 and head pastor at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church from 1988 to 2014.
There were no details available of how McFarland managed to carry on the molestation of the girls during the 14-year period, and whether the attacks took place at his church or elsewhere.
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