In yet another example of sex scandals within major churches, the leader of a million-member church based in Mexico was arrested yesterday and charged with child rape, human trafficking, and other serious crimes.
The case involves La Luz Del Mundo, a major religious group with followers all around the world, and its current leader Naasón Joaquín García. He took over as the head of the church after his father died.
Joaquín García was arrested for a slew of crimes that occurred between 2015 and 2018 according to California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Those years mark the time when he was the leader of the huge church, showing once again that power and undue respect of spiritual leaders often leads to corruption.
“Crimes like those alleged in this complaint have no place in our society. Period,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We must not turn a blind eye to sexual violence and trafficking in our state. At the California Department of Justice, we will do everything we can to prevent and combat these heinous crimes so that our communities are safe. If you see something, report it and we will vigorously pursue justice.”
In the criminal complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the California Department of Justice alleges Joaquín García and his co-defendants committed 26 felonies in Southern California over a period of approximately four years. Joaquín García and his co-defendants allegedly coerced victims into performing sexual acts by telling them that if they went against any of his desires or wishes as “the Apostle,” that they were going against God. The other individuals named in the complaint are Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Melendez, and Susana Medina Oaxaca, all of whom are affiliated with La Luz Del Mundo. In addition to Joaquín García, Alondra Ocampo and Susana Medina Oaxaca were also arrested. An arrest warrant has also been issued for Azalea Rangel Melendez, who is currently at large.
The complaint also alleges that Joaquín García told his victims — who, again, were minors — that kings have mistresses and that “an apostle of god can never be judged for his actions.”
The arrests were the result of an investigation that began in 2018 thanks to information submitted to prosecutors through the clergy abuse online complaint form. This is something that every state needs, because it specifically encourages people to reach out about serious sexual abusers who hide out with the protection of a church without having to fear potential whistleblower backlash.
Bail for Joaquín García has been set at $25 million.