On Tuesday, the leader of Mexico-based megachurch La Luz del Mundo was arrested on human trafficking and child rape charges after four followers from an East Los Angeles branch came forward with allegations of sexual abuse.
50-year-old Naasón Joaquín García is known as an apostle by his followers at the Guadalajara-based church. He was arrested on Monday after landing at LAX and faces 26 felony charges, including forcible rape of a minor and human trafficking.
García’s bail was originally set at $25 million and then doubled to $50 million, as he is seen as a flight risk.
Three girls and one woman came forward with allegations of sexual abuse that allegedly happened between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County. Authorities say that García coerced victims into sexual activity by saying that their refusal would be against God.
Two other church members have been arrested. 24-year-old Susana Medina Oaxaca was arrested on Monday for allegations related to sexual abuse. 36-year-old Alondra Ocampo was arrested on Wednesday and police are seeking a fourth suspect, Azalea Rangel Melendez, who remains at large.
Attorney contributor Bobby Thompson represents survivors in civil lawsuits against their abusers and negligent third parties, such as churches. Here is Bobby with some general thoughts on the legal options available to victims of clergy sex abuse:
“Churches have a legal duty to keep their followers safe from sexual predators. We understand most individuals don’t expect sexual abusers to be at their place of worship. But unfortunately, this is commonly seen where religious leaders exploit the trust of followers and abuse their power in the church. Survivors can fight for justice and get compensation through filing a lawsuit against the religious organization,” Mr. Thompson explained.