Family Last

Family Last

Former boot camp operator receives more than four years in rape and kidnapping cases     

By André Coleman 01/30/2014

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A former Pasadena youth boot camp operator has been sentenced to prison for kidnapping, extortion child abuse and sexual assault.      

Kelvin McFarland — also known as “Sgt. Mac” — was sentenced on Monday to four years and four months in prison for an altercation he had with a 14-year old girl and her uncle and a separate case in which he was accused of two counts of rape. As part of his sentencing, McFarland, who operated McFarland’s Family First Growth camp for troubled teens, must register as a sex offender.

Police arrested McFarland on May 27, 2011, after he approached a 14-year-old girl — identified in court documents as Ms. M — who was cutting school. He showed the girl a police badge before handcuffing her and driving her to her uncle’s house, where he demanded $100 for her release. Although the girl and her aunt later had problems identifying McFarland in court, he was charged with several felonies, including kidnapping and extortion.

Several months later, a videotape surfaced which showed McFarland and some of his employees forcing a child to guzzle excessive amounts of water until he vomited. McFarland and the other instructors also yelled at children and forced them to carry truck tires around their necks.

As a result of this case, then-Assemblyman Anthony Portantino and state Sen. Carol Liu introduced legislation to regulate juvenile boot camps, jointly authoring Senate Bill 1089, which would add regulations for boot camps and other nontraditional youth programs to the California Health and Safety Code.

“I think that if a boot camp is run properly and with good supervision and the mission is towards the mentorship of youth and making good life choices, it is a good tool for parents to use,” said Pasadena Police Lt. Tracey Ibarra. “But when an individual uses it for self-serving purposes and to victimize children, like McFarland did, then they tarnish the efforts of the people who are running quality boot camps.” 

In 2013, sexual assault charges were filed against McFarland after Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies reopened allegations by two women that McFarland sexually assaulted them when they were 14. The allegations resurfaced while detectives in Pasadena were investigating McFarland. The women had called deputies after the rape, but they never processed DNA from the rape kit. After that material was processed, it matched McFarland.

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