Weeks before his trial begins in May, the defense team of controversial megachurch leader Naason Joaquin Garcia, who is accused of multiple sex crimes, including making sex videos with minor girls from his flock at La Luz Del Mundo, has accused prosecutors in California of fabricating evidence in his case.
In a 211-page motion filed on March 15, defense attorney Alan Jackson and his team argue that the case brought against Garcia by the California Attorney General’s Office alleging in part that he groomed and raped teenage girls from his congregation is based on fabricated evidence.
“We are shocked by the facts in the recent motion filed by defense attorney Alan Jackson on March 15 in the case regarding the Apostle of Jesus Christ Naasón Joaquín García,” the church said in a statement to The Christian Post Tuesday.
“The motion states that the California Attorney General’s Office fabricated incriminating evidence, created reports based on that fabricated false evidence, and deleted and concealed exculpatory evidence.”
The 52-year-old megachurch leader, whose followers consider an apostle of Jesus Christ, was arrested in the summer of 2019 at the Los Angeles International Airport. Garcia and several co-defendants, who were tried separately, were charged with human trafficking, production of child pornography, forcible rape of a minor and other felonies committed between 2015 and 2019.
A group of girls was allegedly told that if they went against Garcia’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.” Garcia also allegedly 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 adds.
State law enforcement officer and forensic examiner Steven Stover testified in 2019 about a video found on an iPad seized from Garcia, which allegedly shows the church leader having a threesome with a woman and an underage male.
Stover also testified that he found child pornography on an iPhone taken from Garcia. One video found on the phone shows females “of a very young age” performing sexual acts.
More than 70,000 texts messages reviewed by the defense as a part of the defense’s latest motion. The defense claims some of Garcia’s accusers, called Jane Does, were sexually active, angst-filled teenagers who lied, shoplifted, used drugs, drank alcohol, struggled with mental health issues and discussed having sex with the church leader for money.
In one instance, Jane Doe 2, with the help of a friend identified as Jane Doe 3, fabricated a story for her boyfriend so he wouldn’t break up with her over allegations she was having sex with her brother.
The motion also claims that California Department of Justice Special Agent Joseph Cedusky selectively used information from the thousands of text messages to further the criminal narrative against Garcia while the prosecution actively delayed access to the entire cache of text messages to the defense.
“The magnitude of the government’s misconduct was so vast that it cannot easily be quantified, and the cascading effect of consequences from these actions is immense,” Jackson and his team wrote. “These include, inter alia, Mr. Garcia being forced to sit through a mockery of a preliminary hearing based entirely on lies and fiction created from whole cloth in the minds of investigators and prosecutors.”
Garcia has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and is facing a $50 million bail, believed to be the highest ever imposed in L.A. County. The pastor’s lawyers have long argued the pastor is “100% innocent.”
“Mr. Garcia remained detained in pre-trial custody on an astronomical bail order based entirely on fictional facts and a false narrative cobbled together from disparate pieces of evidence manufactured to appear inculpatory, and presented as truth while they knew that the presented evidence was false and while a mountain of exculpatory evidence was actively buried,” the defense team argued.
“Simply put, this conduct is inexcusable and has no place in our system of justice. At the most fundamental level, Mr. Garcia’s due process rights have been trampled and crushed beneath the boot of a prosecution hell-bent on winning a conviction no matter the cost,” the motion added. “The only remedy in the face of this extreme and shocking conduct is for this Court to dismiss the information.”
In its statement Tuesday, La Luz Del Mundo officials said they are praying for justice for their leader.
“We continue to pray for and trust in the judicial system of the United States, knowing that it guarantees the constitutional rights of all individuals, including the guarantee of due process,” the church said. “These basic rights have not been granted to the Apostle Naasón Joaquín García. As of today, the Apostle has been detained for almost three years without attainable bail.”