Boot camp operator charged with girls' sex assault

March 29, 2012 - 1:25 AM

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — The operator of a boot camp for troubled youth in Pasadena and Altadena has been charged with sexually assaulting two teen girls in 2004, according to prosecutors.

Kelvin Bernard McFarland, 42, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to five felony counts, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles district attorney's office.

The man known as "Sgt. Mac" to boot camp attendees is being held on $275,000 bail.

Prosecutors did not say whether the sexual assault charges were connected to the boot camp.

The victims, both 14 at the time, say they were sexually assaulted by McFarland in March and December 2004.

The charges include sexual penetration by a foreign object, forcible rape and oral copulation of a person under the age of 16.

Many boot camps use military-style discipline and exercises with a goal of instilling character and keeping at-risk youngsters away from drugs, alcohol and crime.

McFarland has been charged in a separate criminal case stemming from allegations that he abused children at a boot camp.

Charges in that case include kidnapping, false imprisonment and extortion.

The Pasadena Star-News last year released short video clips of a boot camp operated by McFarland it said were made in 2009. The Star-News said the videos appear to have been made in Pasadena but did not indicate how it obtained them.

On one, several instructors in military-style fatigues surround and shout at a boy who is wearing a heavy auto tire. At one point, the boy falls down crying but is ordered to stand again.

In the other, several girls and boys are repeatedly ordered to drink water from colored plastic bottles. Several youngsters vomited.

Prosecutors allege McFarland handcuffed a truant 14-year-old girl in May 2011 and told her family that she would be sent to juvenile detention unless she was enrolled in his camp. She was never enrolled.

McFarland is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 17 in the sexual assault case. A pretrial hearing has been set for April 11 on the 2011 case.