The head pastor of a Methodist congregation in Orange County was charged Friday in San Diego County with two counts of molesting a girl under 14 years old, according to police and prosecutors.
John Rodgers McFarland, 66, who has worked at three Orange County churches over the past 30 years, was arrested Dec. 18 in Escondido, according to arrest records and police in Orange County.
San Diego County prosecutors filed two counts of lewd acts on a child against McFarland on Friday at the Vista courthouse. According to the criminal complaint, the charges stem from incidents in 2012 and 2013 with a girl who was then under the age of 14.
Police in Fountain Valley, where McFarland worked as a pastor at a Methodist church for 26 years, said there is “evidence that McFarland abused other victims during his time as a pastor in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach.”
According to police, McFarland was the head pastor from 1988 to 2014 at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church. He also worked as a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach from 2009 to 2014.
“McFarland is currently the head pastor for Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton,” the Fountain Valley police said in a statement on the department’s Facebook page.
Police served search warrants at McFarland’s home and the three Orange County churches where he has worked, police said in a statement, though they did not indicate when the search warrants were executed.
Police in Escondido did not immediately respond to a request for more information Friday afternoon, nor did an Orange County defense attorney listed in online records as representing McFarland.
San Diego County jail records showed McFarland was not listed as an inmate late Friday afternoon.
Fountain Valley police asked any additional victims, or anyone who can provide information about additional victims, to contact Det. Gloria Scott at (714) 593-4480.
Riggins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune