LOS ANGELES, California – Officials charged a prominent Los Angeles church leader with child rape and human trafficking. Additionally, California officials announced the charges on Tuesday.
Specifically, officials charged the leader of La Luz del Mundo. Moreover, this is a Mexico-based church with multiple branches within the U.S. Additionally, officers named the leader as 50-year-old Naasón Joaquín García. Officials arrested him and a follower, 24-year-old Susana Medina Oaxaca. This happened upon landing at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office said that Garcia faces 26 felony counts. Furthermore, these counts include rape of a minor, human trafficking, and child pornography production.
Still, about 1,000 worshippers congregated at the church’s headquarters in Guadalajara, Jalisco on Tuesday evening. Apparently, they were praying for Garcia. Meanwhile, Garcia remains in a Los Angeles jail, on $25 million bail.
Specifically, the allegations refer to encounters involving three girls and one adult woman between 2015 and 2018.
Additionally, this church was founded by Garcia’s grandfather back in 1926. Moreover, the name translates to Light of the World.
Essentially, officials report that Garcia coerced victims into sexual acts through their faith. Specifically, he allegedly told them that refusing his demands would be going against God’s wishes.
Furthermore, officials claim Garcia intimidated the followers into various sexual acts. These included sexually touching themselves and others, and posing for nude photographs.
Becerra said in a press release, “Crimes like those alleged in this complaint have no place in our society. Period. We must not turn a blind eye to sexual violence and trafficking in our state.”
Meanwhile, church spokesperson David Correa said, “We categorically deny those false accusations. We know him personally and he is an honorable and honest man.”