Six months in prison: why the judicial process of the leader of La Luz del Mundo is still stuck in court
Since late September, Naasón Joaquín García's defense has focused on scuttling this case before it reaches a possible trial.His strategy has been to appeal the verdicts that two judges have already given.This has been extended the time that the pastor has been behind bars.
ISAIAS ALVARADO DEC 3, 2019 - 05:32 PM EST
LOS ANGELES, California.-Six months ago, on June 3, a private jet landed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and descended from the leader of the Evangelical Church La Luz del Mundo, Naasón Joaquín García. The California Attorney's Office had spent several months investigating multiple allegations of child sexual abuse against the religious leader and had issued an arrest warrant.
When he presented himself to the customs authorities, Joaquín García, 50, was detained by police officers from the Los Angeles airport. The next day, the state attorney general filed 14 charges of rape, human trafficking, extortion, production of child pornography, sexual abuse of minors, oral copulation and conspiracy.
His alleged accomplices, Susana Medina Oaxaca and Alondra Ocampo, were also in custody . Altogether, 26 serious crimes are mentioned in this case . A third woman, Azalea Rangel, remains at large. This is how the sex scandal that has La Luz del Mundo in the eye of the hurricane broke out.
The investigation maintains that Joaquín García and his accomplices sexually assaulted at least four women, three of them teenagers, between 2015 and 2018. The alleged victims reported that they were forced to strip and perform sexual acts on a camera. Prosecutors in the case accuse the religious leader of two rapes and of improperly touching a minor.
Xavier Becerra, a California prosecutor, classified him as "sick" and stated that his office has "solid evidence" to prosecute him. A source revealed that he is being sought for a life sentence.
Several hearings have since been held in the Los Angeles Superior Court. The case went from the horrifying testimonies of two police officers who described the alleged sexual perversions committed by the leader of La Luz del Mundo, to a lethargy over an ongoing appeal process.
After losing the battle to free his client by posting bail, the defense has focused on demolishing the case before it reaches a possible trial. Judge George Lomelí rejected a motion to dismiss him on September 26 . The lawyers argued that irregularities had been committed.
In response, they filed an appeal, which was rejected on October 22.
Already on November 12, they filed another similar appeal in the Second District State Court of Appeals, where a ruling has not yet been issued.
At the end of that month, the Office of the Prosecutor responded and the court asked to “show a cause” explaining why two motions had already been rejected. By December 24, a response must be submitted to said court, as read in the breakdown of the case.
On December 2, the court considered including Medina Oaxaca and Ocampo in the case, and established a deadline of 13 this month for other interested parties to join.
The next hearing of Joaquín García in the Superior Court of Los Angeles had been set for Tuesday, December 10, but was later postponed for the 17th. In this other process, the judge is waiting for the judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to carry it out. a trial and the date on which it would start is established.
"God is answering"
Alan Jackson, a senior attorney for the congregation's leader, has repeatedly declined to speak to Univision News about the appeals. The state attorney's office has also remained on the sidelines.
But the representatives of the church assure without giving further explanations that they are winning this legal battle. They have been telling the faithful through social networks for several weeks that Joaquín García would be released at the next court hearing for lack of evidence, which has not happened.
"The Court of Appeal issued a favorable response after evaluating the defense's request, requesting arguments from the Los Angeles Superior Court as to why the petition to dismiss the case was NOT granted," states a letter from the Council of Bishops. of the church dated November 27.
“God is answering, but there are still other steps that must be taken. Today our prayer will be redoubled so that God touches hearts. Let's pray for the courts, let's pray for the prosecution, ” adds the letter.
While he continues adding days in a prison in Los Angeles, Joaquín García continues in communication with his parishioners through letters. In one of the most recent he assured that he has followers within the prison who protect him from other inmates.
"I am fine, Church of the Lord, do not worry, my physical integrity has not been damaged," he assured in the letter read in the temples at the end of September. "My greatest fear is: they are going to be scared, they are going to scandalize everything these people are saying, "he said of the evidence the California Attorney General's office claims to have.
Meanwhile, the congregation says they are continuing preparations to celebrate this December 14 their five years at the helm of The Light of the World. "Five years of work, effort, dedication, and growth," church spokesman Silem García Peña said in a tweet . "We have a lot to celebrate."
Article Courtesy of Univision and Isaias Alvarado - Originally in Spanish, translation courtesy of Google Translate