Mexican church leader, Naason Joaquin Garcia, has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing girls from his congregation. Mexico’s largest evangelical church, La Lez Del Mundo, claims to have baptized more than 5 million people in the world. Its countless followers consider Garcia, an “apostle of Jesus Christ”. He will face 16 years and 8 months in prison.
Mexican Church Leader Fears Unfair Trail
Garcia was arrested at Los Angeles airport in 2019 along with 2 of his female followers after arriving in a private jet. He was scheduled to stand trial for 19 charges, including rape, child pornography, and sex trafficking. However, he pleaded guilty to only 2 counts of “forcible oral copulation” with minors and 1 count of “lewd act” upon a child. Garcia maintained his innocence for 3 years and called all his victims liars before suddenly deciding to take a plea deal.
The church issued a statement that Garcia pleaded guilty because he did not trust the court would give him a fair trial. So, the plea deal allowed him to regain his freedom after serving some time. Again referring to him as the apostle of Jesus Christ, the church branded him a hero who sacrificed himself to save the church and his family.
Three women, Alondra Ocampo, Susana Medina Oaxaca, and Azalea Rangel, were also accused of assisting Garcia in his sexual crimes. Ocampo already pleaded guilty to 3 counts of “sexual abuse of a minor” and 1 count of “forcible sexual penetration”. Oaxaca also pleaded guilty to 1 count of “assault likely to cause great bodily harm”. Both were ready to testify against the Mexican church leader at the trial, while Rangel remained a fugitive.
Victims Reveal Distressing Details
Several attendees in the first row of the overfilled courtroom hung their heads as tears rolled out of their eyes. They express grief at how the sexual predator got away with lesser punishment while refusing to admit to more serious charges such as rape and sex trafficking.
The first victim told the court that she suffered more “trauma and pain” at the hand of Garcia than she could ever take. Disappointed at the plea deal, she said, all she wanted to do was expose what kind of Mexican church leader he was, but the deal stopped that.
She continued that this church was everything to her, and every one taught her to fulfil Garcia’s desires. Other members convinced her that she was “lucky” to be receiving “blessings” from him. While serving as Garcia’s sex slave, she claimed that she was forced to do his laundry, clean his toilet and perform a sexual act on him every morning for years.
The second victim also wished that prosecutors took the case to trial. She was willing to sacrifice her dignity again to show prosecutors a child porn video in which Garcia raped her. As a result of suffering abuse, she mentioned that she suffered “constant panic attacks” and “anxiety”. She further said, “we wanted to defend ourselves and throw evidence out in the world to encourage other victims to speak up”.
Another victim told the court she was one of the thousands of children in the church who admired Garcia.
Followers Pray for Their Leader
Where muffled sobs of the victims echoed inside the courtroom, hundreds of church congregants gathered outside to pray for Garcia. They got on their knees, sang hymns, and raised voices saying, “we’re with you, O’ apostle of God!”. One said, “God appointed him, and God cannot be wrong”. Another claimed that Garcia only taught them to love God, themselves, and their families.
Despite spending three years in Jail on 90 million USD bail, Garcia still enjoys widespread support from the churchgoers. Multiple generations of families around the world have been visiting this church for decades. His grandfather founded La Luz del Mundo church in 1926. When his father, Samuel Joaquin Flores, died in 2014, Garcia took the reins.
Followers see the Mexican church leader as a victim of a conspiracy devised by “deceitful prosecutors” and “lying resentful ex-parishioners”. They dismissed his admission of sexually abusing minors as the result of a “rigged justice system”.