Orange County Pastor Accused of Sexually Abusing 7 Children
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)
Hi, I’m attorney Brian Kent.
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Legal Recourse For Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com is a former sex crimes prosecutor. Today, he represents survivors of sexual abuse in civil lawsuits. Here are some general thoughts from Brian on the legal rights of people who have been abused by pastors, priests, and other clergy members:
Sexual predators often seek to place themselves in positions of authority and trust, including religious organizations. Sadly, sexual abuse has been a serious problem in religious communities for decades. The predators in these communities build the trust of their parishioners and exploit this trust in order to commit heinous crimes that traumatize victims. The victims of clergy sex abuse deserve to find justice for what they’ve suffered.
The criminal justice system handles the investigation and prosecution of sexual predators. However, in many cases of clergy sex abuse, the legal options for victims don’t stop there. Sometimes, survivors may have grounds for a lawsuit against the church for failing to prevent the abuse. For example, if the church had ignored or covered up previous allegations of sexual misconduct by a clergy member, the victims may have grounds for a lawsuit against the church.
If you or someone you love is a survivor of clergy sex abuse, you can learn more about your family’s legal options by speaking with an experienced clergy sex abuse victims attorney.
Location of Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton, CA
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