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Orange County, California - Pastor John Rodgers McFarland Charged with Sexually Abusing 7 Children

Orangethorpe United Methodist Church
Published: May 20, 2019
By: Stephen Hayward
Last Updated on November 30, 2020

Orange County Pastor Accused of Sexually Abusing 7 Children

Last Updated: 7/13/2020
Last week, a longtime pastor at several churches in Southern California was arrested a second time on allegations of child sex abuse. 67-year-old John Rodgers McFarland has been charged with seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14 years old and four counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor between 14 and 15. There are allegedly seven victims.

McFarland pleaded not guilty during an arraignment on May 13. If convicted on all charges, he could face up to 179 years in prison.

The former pastor was first arrested in December on suspicion of child molestation in Escondido. While police were investigating those allegations, they reportedly discovered evidence that there were multiple victims of sex abuse by McFarland.

The alleged abuse is believed to have occurred between 2003 and 2017. During this time period, McFarland served as a pastor at several different churches in the Orange County and San Diego areas. He most recently served as the head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton.

Other churches that McFarland has served through the years include:

  • San Dieguito Methodist Church in Encinitas (1978-1981)
  • Calexico United Methodist Church in San Diego County (1981-1988)
  • Fountain Valley United Methodist Church (1988-2016)
  • Surf City Church in Huntington Beach (2011-2016)
Michael E. Pfau
Hi, I’m attorney Mike Pfau. I’m a lawyer here in California and if you or a loved one were injured in an accident, I’d be happy to discuss your legal options. Call me on the number below. It costs nothing, and it would be my honor to help you.
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Legal Recourse For Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse

Attorney Contributor Mike Pfau has experience representing the victims of Methodist Church sex abuse in civil lawsuits. Bobby offered us some thoughts on the legal process of lawsuits against clergy members for sexual assault:

“Sexual predators often seek to work in jobs with authority and trust. Clergy members are one of these jobs that predators will often pursue. Therefore, it is the church’s responsibility to thoroughly check the background of everyone in its parish. Sometimes churches do not fulfill this obligation which can lead to civil lawsuits. For example, if there are multiple complaints against a priest but the church decided not to investigate, they can be found to be liable because of their negligence if someone sues them.”


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About the Author
Stephen Hayward
About Stephen Hayward
Editor: Stephen Hayward has been with for almost 5 years. Stephen has a masters in English from Harvard and has been writing in the legal space for the last 7 years. Stephen has covered a range of topics including following mass torts and sexual assault lawsuits. Contact Stephen: This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.
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