SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – A 67-year-old pastor for several churches in Orange, San Diego and Imperial counties going back decades has been arrested on allegations he molested at least seven children.

A 2015 photo of John Rodgers McFarland. (Credit: Orangethorpe United Methodist Church)

John Rodgers McFarland of Fullerton was arrested May 9 on seven 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.

From 2003 and 2017, McFarland molested seven children aged five to 15, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office reported Monday.

McFarland as been the head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton since 2016, prosecutors said.

Prior to that he was a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach from 2011 to 2016. He was a senior pastor at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church from 1988 to 2016.

From 1981 to 1988, he was a senior pastor at Calexico United Methodist Church in the border community of Calexico in Imperial County. He was a youth pastor at San Dieguito Methodist Church in the San Diego County city of Encinitas from 1978 to 1981, prosecutors disclosed.

He was also a chaplain for 20 years for the Fountain Valley Police Department until his retirement a few years ago.

“They’re held in high regard, there’s a lot of trust in them,” said Sgt. Kham Vang. “This is a betrayal of that trust.”

McFarland, who was in court Monday afternoon but did not enter a plea, is being held on $2 million bail. He faces a maximum sentence of 179 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts, the DA’s office reports.

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