Pastor arrested on suspicion of molesting child in Escondido

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John Rodgers McFarland (Courtesy of Fountain Valley Police Department)

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A pastor for a church in Fullerton was arrested last week on suspicion of molesting a child in the North County several years ago, the Fountain Valley Police Department announced Friday.

Police arrested John Rodgers McFarland, 66, in Fullerton on Dec. 18, according to Fountain Valley police.

The charges date back to a visit to relatives in Escondido some time between July 2012 and July 2013, police said. The alleged victim was a girl under the age of 14 and McFarland faces two felony charges of lewd acts upon a child, according to a criminal complaint from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office obtained by FOX 5.

Escondido Police led an investigation into the charges against the pastor, with help from Fullerton and Fountain Valley police. Investigators believe McFarland had other victims and urged anyone with information about his alleged abuse to contact Detective Scott at 714-593-4480 and reference incident No. 18-44828.

McFarland has been the head pastor for Orangethorpe United Methodist Church since 2014. Previously, McFarland was the head pastor of Fountain Valley United Methodist Church for 26 years, during which time he was also a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach for five years.

McFarland was booked into the Vista Detention Facility after his arrest. He has a court hearing scheduled at the Vista Courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 16.

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