Lawyers for Naasón Joaquín García, who heads the global 5 million-member Light of the World (La Luz del Mundo) church, said Friday that he is “100% innocent” after he was arrested and charged with more than a dozen sex crimes in Los Angeles last Monday.
“We are resolute in our belief that Naasón Joaquín García is 100% innocent of the scurrilous allegations against him. We have met with countless individuals that have personally observed Mr. Garcia’s behavior over the past decades and they are incredulous about these accusations,” Ken Rosenfeld, García’s lead attorney from The Law Offices of Rosenfeld and Sawyer, said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.
García, 50, who is considered by his church to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, was arrested a week ago at the Los Angeles International Airport, the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office told The New York Times. In a release which also highlighted the criminal complaint against García, other individuals associated with the church were also named as co-defendants. They are: Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Melendez and Susana Medina Oaxaca.
García and his co-defendants were charged with human trafficking, production of child pornography, forcible rape of a minor, and other felonies committed between 2015 and 2018. A group of girls were told that if they went against García’s desires, “they were going against God,” according to the criminal complaint. Children were allegedly told to perform “flirty” dances for García while wearing “as little clothing as possible.” García also once gave a group of children “a speech about a king having mistresses and stated that an apostle of God can never be judged for his actions,” the complaint says.
“Crimes like those alleged in this complaint have no place in our society. Period,” Becerra said. “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.”
Co-counsel Allen Sawyer argued that Becerra did not treat his client fairly.
“Accusations are not evidence and Mr. García has been the subject of outrageous government conduct and an irresponsible press conference by the Attorney General of California that violated accepted standards of professional responsibility required of prosecutors. Mr. García is presumed innocent and entitled to an untainted jury pool,” Sawyer said.
Last Wednesday, García was ordered held on $50 million bail at a court hearing which was the highest ever bail amount imposed in Los Angeles, according to Reuters. Prosecutors said the bail amount was being used to deter the pastor from raising money from his church followers and fleeing to Mexico where his church is headquartered.
Sawyer pointed out that “Mr. García’s family will be paying for all and any legal fees related to the case and not the church.”
“Secondly, Mr. García, a US citizen, is the international director of a church with more than 5 million parishioners. It is highly unlikely that a person of his stature would prove a flight risk. As the international director of the Light of the World Church, Mr. García takes his responsibility to his congregants seriously and abandoning those congregants by fleeing, as Mr. Becerra alleges, he would be violating of the core values that Naasón Joaquín García has practiced his entire life,” Sawyer said.
The case will be presented for further arraignment in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday where Rosenfeld and Sawyer are expected to announce a bail motion.
A 1995 study describes La Luz Del Mundo as a Pentecostal movement that takes elements from Mexican culture as well as the dominant Catholic culture. It is also described as an authoritarian church with strategic ties to Mexican politics.