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‘Scared-straight’ teen boot camp instructor may face more charges

January 25, 2012 |  3:40 pm

Kevin McFarland
The operator of a Pasadena-based juvenile boot camp known for his "scared-straight" approach may be facing more criminal charges in connection with alleged misconduct against wayward teens.

Kevin McFarland, operater of Family 1st Growth Camp, is already facing extortion and false imprisonment charges for a May 2011 incident in which he allegedly handcuffed a girl and took her to a relative's home, then demanded payment from the girl's parents.

The Pasadena Sun reported that Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Caroline Lugo told L.A. County Superior Court Judge Teri Schwartz on Wednesday that she needs more time with McFarland's case. "We may be filing on other" matters, Lugo told the court. "That decision has not been made."

After the incident with the girl, Pasadena police began to investigate videos of boot camp activity in which one juvenile was forced to walk with a car tire around his neck as adults yelled at him from inches away and other juveniles appear to have been forced to drink water to excess. McFarland has denied that he had a role in alleged misconduct on the videos.

McFarland is a former Marine who likes to be called "Sgt. Mac." He founded the camp in 2009 and boasted that his tough-love, scared-straight tactics and military-strict discipline were the perfect formula for reforming gang members, taming runaways and getting through to troublemakers.

On Wednesday, Lugo declined to state whether the potential new charges may stem from the videos, though Pasadena police have interviewed more than a dozen witnesses related to the videos and forwarded the information to prosecutors.

Schwartz granted an extension in the case until Feb. 22.


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-- Bill Kisliuk, Times Community News

Photo: Kevin McFarland, known to his students as "Sgt. Mac," runs a program called Family 1st Growth Camp in Pasadena.

Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angles Times