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:
Attorney Contributor Bobby Thompson 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.”