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Former F.V. and H.B. pastor is suspected of molesting girl; authorities seek possible additional victims

Former F.V. and H.B. pastor is suspected of molesting girl; authorities seek possible additional victims
The Rev. John Rodgers McFarland, 66, was arrested by Escondido police on Dec. 18 on suspicion of molesting a girl. (Courtesy of Fountain Valley Police Department)

Authorities are seeking possible additional victims after a pastor who spent 26 years at a church in Fountain Valley and five at a church in Huntington Beach was arrested on suspicion of molesting a girl, Fountain Valley police said.

The Rev. John Rodgers McFarland, 66, was charged Friday in San Diego County with two counts of molesting a girl under 14 years old, according to police and prosecutors.

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McFarland was arrested Dec. 18 by police in Escondido, where the molestation is alleged to have occurred.

According to the criminal complaint, the charges stem from incidents in 2012 and 2013. Other details such as the girl’s exact age at the time and McFarland’s city of residence are unclear.

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Voter registration records show McFarland lived in Fountain Valley from 1998 to 2007. He was a pastor at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church from 1988 to 2014 and at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach from 2009 to 2014, police said.

Since 2014, McFarland has served as head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton.

Search warrants were issued for his home as well as churches where he has worked, police said. Investigators said they found evidence that he abused other victims during his time as a pastor in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach.

Calls and emails to the local churches seeking comment were not immediately returned.

McFarland’s son Ted, 25, is the youth director at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church.

McFarland also was a volunteer police and fire chaplain in Fountain Valley and was a youth pastor at churches in Escondido and Calexico from 1978 to 1988, according to the Orangethorpe United Methodist Church website.

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.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Fountain Valley police Det. Gloria Scott at (714) 593-4480 and reference incident No. 18-44828.

The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.

This article was originally published at 4:50 p.m. Dec. 28 and was later updated with additional information.

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