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Pastor arrested for alleged molestation in Escondido

ESCONDIDO — An Orange County pastor has been arrested for allegedly molesting a young girl in Escondido, police said.

John Rodgers McFarland, 56, a Fullerton resident, was arrested there by Escondido police on Dec. 18 on charges stemming from the alleged abuse of at least one child, police said Friday.

McFarland is facing two felony charges of lewd acts upon a child that are alleged to have occurred in Escondido between July 26, 2012, and July 23, 2013, according to a criminal complaint from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office obtained by NBC San Diego. The victim was described in the complaint as a girl under the age of 14.

The incidents were believed to have occurred between 2012 and 2013 while McFarland was visiting relatives in Escondido, Lt. Chris Lick of the Escondido Police Department said.

Police executed search warrants at McFarland’s home, as well as current and previous churches where he was employed as head pastor, according to Fountain Valley police, who said there is evidence he may have additional victims in Orange County.

According to an online biography, McFarland grew up in North County at the San Marcos United Methodist Church. He graduated from the University of La Verne in 1974 and the Pacific School of Religion in 1978, then served as an associate pastor at San Dieguito United Methodist Church for three years before becoming pastor of the Calexico United Methodist Church.

McFarland has been the head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton since 2014. He was also a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach between 2009 and 2014, and served as head pastor at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church for 26 years from 1988 to 2014.

McFarland has a court hearing scheduled at the Vista Courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 16.

Police asked other victims or anyone else with potential information on crimes committed by McFarland to contact Fountain Valley police Detective Gloria Scott at (714) 593-4480.

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