Leader of Mexican megachurch sentenced in US for child sex abuse | Sexual Assault News

Naason Joaquin Garcia, head of a church with 5 million followers, has been sentenced to almost 17 years in jail.

The pinnacle of a Mexico-based megachurch has been sentenced to almost 17 years in jail in america for sexually abusing three women.

Naason Joaquin Garcia, the chief of the Guadalajara-based evangelical church La Luz del Mundo, had pleaded responsible final week as a part of a plea deal to costs of forcible oral copulation and performing a lewd act on minors.

The plea got here three days earlier than Garcia was set to face trial on 23 felony counts of intercourse crimes in opposition to youngsters, together with a number of costs of rape, conspiracy to interact in human trafficking and little one pornography, with prosecutors accusing him of utilizing his place of religious authority to control his victims.

Garcia, together with a gaggle of church members, groomed women and younger ladies, telling them they might face everlasting damnation if they didn’t adjust to the sexual requests or in the event that they reported the abuse, prosecutors have alleged.

The plea deal, which included prosecutors dropping 16 costs, together with counts of raping women and girls, was condemned by the victims, who mentioned in courtroom on Wednesday that they’d been robbed of their probability to totally confront Garcia, who is taken into account an “apostle” by the about 5 million members of his church.

“We seemed as much as you, you had been our god, and also you betrayed us. You might be not more than a predator and an abuser,” an accuser recognized as Jane Doe Quantity 3 informed Garcia, who sat together with his again to those that spoke.

An accuser recognized as Jane Doe 4 mentioned Garcia used her “over and over like a sacrificial lamb taken to slaughter”.

Mexico church
Garcia’s image is displayed on the aspect of the East Los Angeles temple in 2019 [File: Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo]

All the survivors mentioned they’d discovered concerning the plea deal on the final minute solely and weren’t consulted on the negotiations.

One other survivor mentioned Garcia had no regret for his crimes, alleging he had not too long ago despatched a message to church members professing his innocence and proclaiming that he accepted the cope with prosecutors solely as a result of he believed he couldn’t get a good trial.

“Your honour, this abuser thinks your courtroom is a joke. Even after he accepted the plea deal, he’s sending messages to the church that he’s harmless,” the accuser mentioned.

For his half, Choose Ronald Coen mentioned his arms had been tied by the deal as he handed down the sentence really helpful by prosecutors.

“I by no means stop to be amazed at what folks do within the identify of faith and what number of lives are ruined within the guise of a supreme being,” Coen mentioned.

The conviction caps an investigation that started in 2018.

The next yr, authorities arrested Garcia at Los Angeles Worldwide Airport together with a co-defendant, Susana Medina Oaxaca. She pleaded responsible final Friday to a cost of assault more likely to trigger nice bodily hurt.

A second co-defendant, Alondra Ocampo, additionally arrested in 2019, pleaded responsible in 2020 to 3 felony counts of contact with a minor for functions of committing a sexual offence and one depend of forcible sexual penetration. She had beforehand confronted a number of counts of human trafficking and different costs.

A fourth individual charged within the investigation, Azalea Rangel Melendez, remained at massive.

When a Los Angeles choose ordered Garcia to face trial in August 2020, the church issued an announcement defending their chief as wrongly accused and saying the fees in opposition to him stemmed from “unsubstantiated nameless allegations” and “blatant rumour”.

The church has not since responded to the allegations.