Former pastor sentenced to 15 years to life for child molestation

John Rodgers McFarland, 68, of Fountain Valley, California.

John Rodgers McFarland had served within various Methodist churches throughout southern California for nearly 30 years.


On Friday, February 5, 68-year-old McFarland pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with minors and was sentenced to 15 years to life as a part of a plea deal.


As a part of the plea deal, six additional sentences of 15 years to life and six additional years will all be served concurrently. He has additionally been ordered to pay restitution, to be tested for HIV/AIDS and to participate in an AIDS prevention program.


The first time McFarland had been arrested was in San Diego County in December 2018 at which time he was charged with two counts of molesting a girl under the age of 14.


As that investigation unfolded, additional victims were identified and he was once again arrested in May of 2019, this time by the Fountain Valley Police Department in Orange County.  McFarland was charged with seven additional counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14 and four counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor between the ages of 14 and 15.


In total, seven victims were identified between 2003 and 2017 who ranged in age between five and 15-years of age.


From 1978 to 1981 McFarland had served as a youth pastor at the San Dieguito Methodist Church in Encinitas, San Diego County, before becoming a senior pastor at Calexico United Methodist Church, Calexico, Imperial County where he served between 1981 and 1988.


In 1988 McFarland moved to a senior pastor position at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church where he remained until 2014.  He concurrently worked as a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach between 2009 and 2014.


McFarland had also been a chaplain for the Fountain Valley Police Department for 20 years.