Just days before his trial, a leader of a megachurch in Mexico admitted that he sexually abused three girls.
According to California state prosecutors, Naasón Joaquín García, who leads La Luz del Mundo in Mexico, pled guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court to two counts of forcible oral copulation involving minors and one count of a lewd act upon a child who was 15.
García, 53, was days away from his trial on charges of child rape and human trafficking to produce child pornography, Ministry Watch reports.
“García used his power to take advantage of children,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “He relied on those around him to groom congregants for the purposes of sexual assault. Today’s conviction can never undo the harm, but it will help protect future generations.”
García now faces up to 16 years and eight months in prison.
Previously, García’s lawyers had denied the accusations of sexual abuse.
In March, his defense attorneys argued that he did not “brainwash” the girls.
“It is a fantasy seemingly invented out of whole cloth,” defense attorneys said.
In 2019, García was arrested along with two women. The women were accused of helping García facilitate the abuse.
One of the women, Alondra Ocampo, pled guilty and admitted to helping him find his victims. She is scheduled to testify in García’s trial.
“She actively recruited and groomed girls for him,” Attorney Fred Thiagarajah said. “She would target girls and bring them into his inner fold. She was tasked with sexualizing these girls and facilitating their abuse.”
Ocampo reportedly told girls that if they refused the demands of “the apostle,” they were going against God, according to the charges.
The other woman, Susana Medina Oaxaca, also pled guilty to assault likely to cause bodily injury. As per her agreement with prosecutors, Oaxaca will serve four years, Thiagarajah said.
Photo courtesy: iStock/Getty Images Plus/allanswart
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.