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"I am disgusted that he still stands in front of the temple": new accusations of sexual abuse against hierarchies of La Luz del Mundo"

NOV 8, 2019 - 11:49 AM EST

LOS ANGELES, California.-The words of Laura, a 34-year-old Chilean who left the La Luz del Mundo church five months ago,are filled with anger.She presents herself and immediately lets go of her complaint: that she was 14 years old when a deacon from the congregation sexually harassed her "fiercely",who once kissed her by force and who also threatened her not to report her.She was silent for several years.

"He said he was madly in love with me. She began to talk to me about pure sexual things she wanted to do to me (...) and the time came when she called me to the 'Pastoral House' when she was alone and she kissed me by force, ”says Laura,.

"I was very intimidated by him, I was scared every time he saw me , " she says. That deacon, who was then about 48 years old, was waiting for her outside the school, accompanied her on the bus, followed her to the store, spied on her outside her house, wrote erotic letters to her, “scared” the boys who were they drew near and "bare his eyes" during prayers in the temple.

Laura says she sent photos, letters and emails as evidence to a cult body called 'Honor and Justice,' which reviews complaints against hierarchs and church members. "But nobody did anything, no pastor, they covered their filth ."

His alleged stalker is now 66 years old and the pastor of La Luz del Mundo, according to his account. She believes that she is now in front of some temple in Mexico. This is the first time that Laura tells her experience to the media.

I am disgusted that he still stands in front of the temple, carrying prayers, after everything he told me , "she says angrily. "They give him the honors and the welcome as if he had never done anything and that is the rage that gives me (...) It was the most bad experience that I lived in the church," says this South American.

The alleged sexual assault occurred in 2001, in a city in Chile that Laura prefers not to disclose for fear of retaliation. In 2007, she dared to tell her mother what had happened, when this religious leader was sent to another Chilean city and then to Mexico. Her father found out a couple of weeks ago. Both were enraged and abandoned the cult.

In Chile, he never filed a complaint with the authorities, he says, "for fear" that his family would be attacked by the minister's followers or that the congregation would be affected by a scandal.

She continued to go to La Luz del Mundo temples until last June, when she learned that international director Naasón Joaquín García faces charges of child sexual abuse in California.

"I said, 'Enough, it can't be.' Because of everything that Naasón is accused of, he (the Chilean shepherd) told me exactly the same. There is no detail that comes out ”, denounces Laura. "I tell (the victims) to speak up, to raise their voices, because for them and for me there are many girls who are going to avoid being abused in the church," warns this Chilean woman.

Eliezer Gutiérrez, spokesperson for La Luz del Mundo, assured that he does not know the appointed pastor, nor the allegations that weigh against him. Univision Noticias asked the spokesperson to have direct communication with the accused minister to respond directly to the accusations made by Laura. This was his response: "It is not an individual that I easily identify, because the church is very large."

In addition, Gutiérrez clarified that it is not the responsibility of the congregation to impose punishments on its high-ranking members, but on the judicial organs. "The complaint is filed before a jurisdictional authority, where the person affected presents his plea for the authority to guarantee his right," he said. "In order to act responsibly, part of going to the competent authorities or authorities," he stressed.

"I have received death threats"

When Naasón Joaquín García has already spent more than 160 days in a Los Angeles jail, while preliminary hearings are underway for his possible trial, other former members of La Luz del Mundo have come out to denounce alleged sexual abuse by the leaders of the church at different times.

A Salvadoran woman did so on Saturday, covering part of her face with the same veil that she put on her hair to enter the temple. She assures that after the arrest of Joaquín García, her 41-year-old daughter told her that in the early 1990s, when she was 16, she was raped by a leader of the institution who has been accused of sexual assaults against minors in several times. Mexico. The minister in question has already passed away and was never convicted of any crime.

“She never told me that she was raped, until now that Naasón fell. She said, 'Mom, the theater fell.' ” She made that confession over the phone: her daughter now lives outside of California. "I want to hug her and tell her how I feel. I blame myself because I put her in this church, ”she said with tears.

This Central American woman, who last weekend went to a protest in front of the Los Angeles Superior Court to ask that Joaquín García be convicted, said that she was 19 years old when she was baptized in La Luz del Mundo. Her daughter was “born in church” and as a teenager she was part of the choir at the East Los Angeles temple. That is where the sexual abuse that had never been reported to the police occurred, he regrets.

"For you it is very difficult to believe those things of that church, one comes from the heart seeking God," he says.

A Mexican also came to Saturday's demonstration, who claims he had an unpleasant incident with Naasón Joaquín in 2011, when he was the pastor of a temple in San Diego, California. He was 25 years old and the minister sent him to call his office because there was a complaint that he had contact with his girlfriend.

“She asked me up-and-down questions: if I did oral sex on her, what were her breasts like, and when I kept asking I noticed that she was aroused and then she started masturbating in front of me. I got up because I was disgusted. I was disappointed. When I told him that this could not happen, he said that he did not have to say anything, because I had provoked it with my behavior. I ran away, I left, ”he said.

Three years after that fact, Naasón Joaquín took command of the cult.

Covering his face, this young man has published several videos on YouTube denouncing "the manipulation" that the church exercises over its parishioners. He says that this has cost him that his own father says to him: "For me you are already dead and your son too." In addition, he says, they have warned him that they will assassinate him for what he does.

“I have received death threats, which are going to kill me and my entire family; that first they will hit me on the head with a bat and then they will stick it in my tail. Whatever happens to me, I hold La Luz del Mundo responsible, ”said the protester on Saturday wearing a wolf mask.

That day also raised the voice of a 62-year-old Californian who claims to be the aunt of one of the four alleged victims mentioned in the court case against Joaquín García. She did not give details about what her relative suffered, an adult woman. He only dares to say that they did “everything” to him and he fears for her.

"They are capable of killing for Naasón, they are dangerous," he warns. She arrived at the demonstration covering her face with a veil. "It hurts me to think about my niece's situation," she says outside the Los Angeles court.

He was five years old when he entered La Luz del Mundo and left at 52, a decade ago. "To the victims of Naasón I say that they are not alone, we have God on our side," he said.

"We continue to believe in his honor"

Eliezer Gutiérrez, the congregation's spokesperson, did not comment specifically on each of the allegations, assuring that he had never heard of them. He stressed that the church respects the right of these people to demonstrate and invited them to file complaints with the authorities if they see fit.

"I completely ignore the people you mention," the spokesperson said in an interview with Univision Noticias, after Joaquín García's preliminary hearing on Thursday.

"If any person, member or not of the church wants to express his opinion, his expression on any situation of injustice has the freedom to do so (...) If any of these people considers that his complaint, beyond being publicly stated, should to be heard by some jurisdictional institution, I also believe that it has every right to do so, "he said.

Regarding the criminal case against the leader of La Luz del Mundo, Gutiérrez insisted: "We continue to believe in his honor." In addition, he stressed that the church is "respectful of institutions."

“Our position is that this (the process) is litigated in court, not in the media. Because it is important that justice prevail through the institutions that have been established for that purpose. ”

Univision Noticias has requested through his lawyers an interview with Joaquín García in prison to have his version of events, but so far no response has been obtained.

In a letter he wrote in his cell that was read in the temples in late September, he insisted that he is innocent. “My biggest fear is: they are going to be scared, they are going to be scandalized by everything these people are saying. What are they going to say? Sir, it seems as if this is not going to end, ”he said in the letter.

"There has been absolutely nothing that the enemy has been able to do, that they are nothing but the same weapons that he has always used and that he will undoubtedly continue to use. Since they have always sought scandal to defame their church, but nevertheless (sic) God has kept us strong, ”he wrote.

In a brief hearing on Thursday, the defense asked Judge George G. Lomelí for a few days to appeal the verdict of another magistrate who refused to dismiss the entire case, citing irregularities in the process. The next court hearing is scheduled for November 21.

Article Courtesy of Univision and Isaias Alvarado

Originally in Spanish, translation courtesy of Google Translate

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