LOS ANGELES, June 4 — The Mexican head of a huge church admitted sexually abusing children in the United States yesterday, days before he was scheduled to stand trial.
Naason Joaquin Garcia, the leader of La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World), which claims millions of members worldwide, pleaded guilty to the assaults on young church members around Los Angeles over a number of years.
“As the leader of La Luz del Mundo, Naason Joaquin Garcia used his power to take advantage of children,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
“He relied on those around him to groom congregants for the purposes of sexual assault.” Prosecutors say Garcia, 53, exploited his position of trust to force underage girls to commit sexual acts on him.
During the course of the investigation they alleged Garcia and his co-defendants had told victims that refusing to comply with his wishes would be acting against God.
Garcia had faced a raft of charges relating to alleged wrongdoing up to his arrest at Los Angeles International Airport in 2019.
The preacher, who was charged alongside two other church members, had been due to stand trial, starting on Monday.
But his guilty pleas to three counts mean he will now be sentenced next week, and is expected to face several years’ jail. — AFP