La Luz Del Mundo Church Leader Pleads Guilty To Sex Abuse Charges
Just days before his long-awaited trial was set to start, La Luz del Mundo leader Naason Joaquin Garcia pleaded guilty Friday to sexually abusing girls from his congregation, a stunning reversal for a man who followers believe is an apostle appointed by God.
Originally facing 36 charges, Garcia at the last minute took a plea deal that called for him to admit to three counts, the state attorney generals office announced Friday: two counts of forcible oral copulation involving minors and one count of a lewd act upon a child who was 15 years old.
Todays conviction sends a clear message that sexual exploitation is never acceptable in California. We will hold you accountable if you break the law, Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said in a news release issued late Friday afternoon.
Garcia, he said, abused his authority to take advantage of children, while relying on his underlings to groom congregants for the purposes of sexual assault.
Todays conviction can never undo the harm,” Bonta declared, “but it will help protect future generations.
Garcia, 53, had publicly maintained his innocence for years. His unexpected plea change came during an unannounced hearing Friday, which was only disclosed after the fact in a news release.
Garcia’s lawyers didn’t immediately return requests for comment a church spokesman had no immediate comment.
Her attorney previously told The Times that Ocampo herself suffered years of sexual abuse in the church when she was a minor.
From The Time They Were Young Children The Plaintiffs ‘were Routinely Coerced’ To Believe Garcas ‘wishes And Desires Were Direct Orders From God’ According To The Complaint
LOS ANGELES Naasón Joaquín García, the leader of La Luz del Mundo, is facing a new lawsuit filed by five women who allege he sexually abused them while other church members groomed them and used the religion as ammunition against them.
The five women are identified as Jane Does in the civil lawsuit that was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The women, who range in age from 20 to 28, were also the Jane Does included in the criminal charges filed against García by the California Attorney Generals office, attorneys said.
They cite sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and gender violence and seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against the church.
Named in the complaint are: 53-year-old García, who is in prison after taking a plea deal in criminal charges brought by California Attorney General Rob Bonta as well as Alondra Ocampo, Susana Medina Oaxaca and Azalea Rangel, who allegedly groomed the women to be abused by García and Alma Zamora de Joaquín, who is Garcías wife and who attorneys said knew of her husbands alleged abuse and the grooming of the young women. Garcías three children Adoraim Joaquín Zamora, Eldai Joaquín Zamora and Sibma Joaquín Zamora were also named in the suit and were allegedly aware of the abuse and grooming.
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A spokesperson for the church has not returned a request for comment.
Followers Of Luz Del Mundo ‘apostle’ Say They’ll Wait Out His Sex
In Guadalajaras Hermosa Provincia neighborhood, the headquarters of La Luz del Mundo, hundreds of worshipers walked to evening prayer Wednesday, a day like none other for Mexico’s largest evangelical church.
Naason Joaquin Garcia, the churchs leader, a man considered by congregants an apostle of Jesus Christ, had just been sentenced to nearly 17 years in prison for committing acts of sexual abuse against girls from his community.
But church members here stand steadily by him, holding that hes innocent. Kneeling, they prayed for Garcia, the third member of his family to lead the church, the third to be accused of sexual misconduct.
Are we firm? a congregant cried.
Amén, the members answered.
Do we keep believing? he asked.
Amén, they replied again.
Despite maintaining his innocence since his arrest at Los Angeles International Airport in 2019, Garcia abruptly pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of forcible oral copulation on a minor and one count of committing a lewd act on a child.
He had faced allegations from five accusers and allegedly committed crimes between 2015 and 2019. Prosecutors have claimed that the alleged victims were told that if they went against Garcias desires they were going against God.
I feel that this plea allows him to escape the true consequences of his actions, she said.
All Ive ever known was the church, it was my whole life, she continued.
The guy is more of a martyr to save the name of the church and his own people, said Meza.
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Mexican Megachurch Leader Given Nearly 17 Years In Us Prison For Child Sex Abuse
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LOS ANGELES, June 8 The head of a Mexico-based evangelical megachurch that claims about 5 million followers worldwide was sentenced on Wednesday in a Los Angeles courtroom to 16 years and eight months in prison for sexually abusing three girls.
Naason Joaquin Garcia, leader and self-styled apostle of the Guadalajara-based church La Luz del Mundo , pleaded guilty last Friday to two counts of forcible oral copulation involving minors and performing a lewd act on a child.
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Two other church associates charged with Garcia have reached separate plea deals.
Several of his accusers, each identified in court only as Jane Doe and who are now young adults, decried the plea agreement as too lenient, saying they were not consulted in the deal that Garcia reached with the California attorney generals office.
The church, which has publicly stood by Garcia, issued a statement on Twitter reiterating its support, saying, our confidence in him remains intact with full knowledge of his integrity, his conduct and his work.
It said Garcia accepted a plea deal because he believed he could not get a fair trial, and that evidence in the case had been suppressed, withheld, doctored and altered.
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Traditional Clothing And Dance
The traditional ranch style clothing of Jalisco is an imitation of Spanish dress that the women of the court wore. The original was heavy in expensive lace and ribbons but the Jalisco version focused on multicolored ribbons. The dresses were made from cotton instead of silk and brocades. The popularity of this dress grew during the to various parts of the country, as it was worn by a number of famous female soldiers of the time. Today, it is one considered one type of traditional Mexican dress. Today, this dress is mostly worn for dancing to sons and jarabes. The ribbon dress of Jalisco consists of an ample skirt in one of a number of bright colors. The bottom ruffle generally measures up to 35 cm wide onto which are placed ten strips of ribbons about 1.5 cm wide in colors that contrast with that of the skirt. The blouse is usually of the same color as the skirt with sleeves extending to the elbows and also decorated with ribbons, especially around the collar. This and other type of folk dance is most often worn on special occasions when traditional dance is performed.
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Naasn Joaqun Garca: New Complaints Filed Against La Luz Del Mundo Megachurch Leader
LOS ANGELES – The representatives of five survivors who were allegedly abused by the leader of a Mexican-based evangelical megachurch, who was sentenced to 16 years and eight months in prison for sex-related crimes involving minors, were expected to discuss new complaints on Monday.
In early June, Naasón Joaquín García, a former leader at La Luz del Mundo megachurch, pled guilty to multiple felony counts of sexual assault involving three separate minors.
In addition to his prison time, Garcia is expected to be ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
The California Department of Justice led a multiyear investigation, which launched in 2018, and culminated in the arrest of García, Susana Medina Oaxaca, and Alondra Ocampo in 2019 for conduct that occurred over several years in Los Angeles County dating back to at least 2015.
Over the course of the investigation and prosecution, prosecutors demonstrated that Garcías criminal conduct was enabled by the individuals surrounding him and that García used his position of trust and authority as the leader of La Luz del Mundo to sexually abuse children.
As a result of the guilty plea, García was convicted of two counts of forcible oral copulation involving minors and one count of a lewd act upon a child who was 15 years old.
A fourth individual, Azalea Rangel Melendez, currently remains at large.
Other Beliefs And Practices
La Luz del Mundo teaches moral and civil principles such as community service, duty to exercise their right to vote, and that science is a gift from God. Church members do not celebrate Holy Week. The most important yearly rituals are the Holy Supper , held yearly on August 14, and the anniversary of Naasón Joaquín’s birth is held on May 7at its international headquarters in Guadalajara.
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Mexican Church Leader Of La Luz Del Mundo Charged With Child Rape
LOS ANGELES The leader and self-proclaimed apostle of La Luz del Mundo, a Mexico-based church with branches in the U.S. that claims over 1 million followers, has been charged with human trafficking and child rape, California officials announced Tuesday.
Joaquín García and a follower of the church, 24-year-old Susana Medina Oaxaca, were arrested Monday after landing at Los Angeles International Airport, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office said.
Around 1,000 worshippers gathered at the headquarters of La Luz del Mundo in Guadalajara, Jalisco, on Tuesday evening to pray for García as he was held in Los Angeles on $25 million bail.
The fundamentalist Christian church, whose name translates to The Light of the World, was founded in 1926 by García’s grandfather. It has been the subject of child sex abuse allegations for years but none have led to criminal charges in Mexico. It has more than 15,000 churches in 58 countries, according to its website. The church’s followers must adhere to a strict moral code in exchange for the promise of eternal salvation.
García told one of the victims and others in 2017, after they had completed a “flirty” dance wearing “as little clothing as possible,” that kings can have mistresses and an apostle of God cannot be judged for his actions, the complaint states.
David Correa, a spokesman from the church’s headquarters, said in a phone call that they learned about the charges from the media.
Leader Of La Luz Del Mundo Megachurch Sentenced To Over 16 Years For Sexual Assault
Naasón Joaquín García pleaded guilty to assaulting minors last week, days before he was to go on trial in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES The leader of the La Luz del Mundo megachurch was sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexually assaulting minors.
Naasón Joaquín García, 53, will also be required to register as a sex offender for life, according to a statement Wednesday from California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Jury selection had been scheduled to start this week in Los Angeles, but Garcia pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three minors on Friday and avoided a trial. Some of his victims testified at his sentencing hearing today about the abuse they suffered at Garcia’s hands.
Todays sentence for Naasón Joaquín García is a critical step forward for justice, Bonta said. While it will never undo the harm and trauma he caused as the leader of La Luz del Mundo, this sentence makes it crystal clear that abusers no matter who they are will be held accountable.
García, the self-proclaimed apostle of Mexico-based La Luz del Mundo which means The Light of the World in Spanish was arrested in June 2019 and accused of participating in human trafficking and child rape. He was arrested alongside his associates, Susana Medina Oaxaca and Alondra Ocampo, who were all charged with a total of 29 felony counts.
The case was thrown out on a technicality two years ago before it got reinstated.
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Church Expansion And Growth
Samuel Joaquín Flores was born on February 14, 1937, the youngest of eight siblings. He became the leader of La Luz del Mundo by the age of 27 after the death of his father. He continued his father’s desire for international expansion by traveling outside of Mexico extensively. He first visited church members in the Mexican state of Michoacán in August 1964 and later that year went to Los Angeles on a missionary trip. By 1970, the Church had expanded to Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guatemala. Its first small temple in Hermosa Provincia was demolished and replaced by a larger one in 1967. With Samuel Joaquín’s work, La Luz del Mundo became integrated into Guadalajara and the Church replicated the model of Hermosa Provincia in many cities in Mexico and abroad. By 1972, there were approximately 72,000 members of the Church, which increased to 1.5 million by 1986 and to 4 million by 1993. Anthropologist Patricia Fortuny says that the Church’s growth can be attributed to several factors, including its social benefits, which “improves the living conditions of believers.” Samuel Joaquín oversaw the construction of schools, hospitals and other social services. The Church also expanded to countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ethiopia and Israel between 1990 and 2010. By the end of Samuel Joaquín’s ministry, La Luz del Mundo was present in fifty countries. After fifty years at the head of La Luz del Mundo, Samuel Joaquín died in his home on December 8, 2014.
He Is A Dangerous Person
The civil suit that a law firm in southern California filed on behalf of Martin seeks monetary compensation that is not specified. Jurists believe that other alleged victims will join the complaint, which is independent of the judicial process that is being followed in the Los Angeles Court.
The Light of the World, as an institution, has a pattern of benefiting through criminal behavior against your membership. Its not just the Apostle, he goes down to the leadership of the organization and other members who are aware, agree and are complicit in various abuses that continue in the church, said Martins lawyer, Deborah Mallgrave.
It is the aspect of sexual servitude, forced labor, coerced donations for which its members are pressured, forced to collect thousands of dollars in donations, both for the church and for the Apostle directly, under the threat of an eternal condemnation of their souls if they do not obey , the litigant added.
Mallgrave catalogs the Light of the World as a criminal organization who has done her own for years, while her client considers her A mafia which benefits from the cult of personality that has been practiced since the congregation was founded in Guadalajara in 1926.
The purpose of my lawsuit is to protect children, says Martin, who believes that the just punishment for Naason Joaquin is never to leave prison. He is a dangerous person, he warns.
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Megachurch La Luz Del Mundo Head Pleads Guilty To 3 Sexual Abuse Counts
La Luz del Mundo, which is Spanish for The Light of the World, is a fundamentalist Christian church started in Mexico in the mid-1920s by Eusebio Joaquín González. And in recent years, the churchs influence has spread to California, where theres a large Hispanic population. The church claims around 5 million followers worldwide.
On Wednesday, Gonzálezs grandson, Naasón Joaquín García, the current leader of the organization, was sentenced to prison for 16 years and eight months after pleading guilty last week to three sexual abuse counts of girls in his church.
Garcías father, Samuel Joaquín Flores, the previous head of the church, was also accused of child sex abuse in 1997, but the authorities in Mexico never filed criminal charges.
While some have said that this plea deal sent a message, others say it marks a dangerous precedent.
La Luz Del Mundo Dissidents Pressure Authorities Seek More Charges Against Apostle
Outraged by what they saw as a lenient sentence for La Luz del Mundo leader Naason Joaquin Garcia, a group is urging other victims to speak out.
Sochil Martin said her aunt offered her as a sexual servant to Garcías father, who was the churchs leader, and then to García, his successor. Martin said Garcías plea deal felt like a slap to the face to his victims. Shes also concerned that other potential survivors wont come forward after seeing the Jane Does be subjected to harassment and intimidation by church members.
What are these girls gonna think? There is no justice, especially if youre Latino, she said.
La Luz del Mundo said in a statement released after Garcías sentencing that he had no choice but to accept with much pain that the agreement presented is the best way forward to protect the church and his family.
Garcia is the grandson of the churchs founder, Eusebio Joaquín González, known to the congregation as Aaron. The organization has churches in East and West L.A., Orange County and Palm Springs.
The five victims also filed a civil lawsuit this month in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeking damages against the church. They also named García, his wife and children and three other women in the suit, who they said either know about the abuse or helped groom them for García.
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