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Mexican megachurch chief pleads responsible in LA to intercourse abuse

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Naasón Joaquín García, the chief of Mexican megachurch La Luz del Mundo, who had been going through little one rape and different expenses, admitted simply days earlier than trial that he sexually abused three women, California state prosecutors stated.

García, 53, pleaded responsible Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court docket to 2 counts of forcible oral copulation involving minors and one depend of a lewd act upon a toddler who was 15. He had confronted jury choice Monday in his trial on expenses that included little one rape and human trafficking to provide little one pornography.

Garcia, chief of a church based by his grandfather that has 5 million worldwide followers, was thought of the “apostle” of Jesus Christ who could lead on worshippers to salvation.

Prosecutors stated he wielded his non secular affect to have intercourse with a number of feminine followers.

“García used his energy to benefit from youngsters,” Lawyer Common Rob Bonta stated in an announcement. “He relied on these round him to groom congregants for the needs of sexual assault. At this time’s conviction can by no means undo the hurt, however it’ll assist defend future generations.”

The responsible plea was an abrupt flip of occasions from the vigorous denials by his legal professionals and ardent help from the Guadalajara-based church that can be recognized by its English identify, The Gentle of the World. The church and Garcia’s legal professionals didn’t instantly touch upon the responsible plea.

Garcia faces as much as 16 years and eight months in jail when sentenced Wednesday. He stays jailed on $90 million bail.

Garcia was arrested in 2019 and charged together with two girls followers who have been accused of serving to facilitate the abuse.

Along with going through his accusers at trial, Garcia was additionally going through the prospect of getting to problem considered one of his accomplices.

Alondra Ocampo, who had pleaded responsible and admitted to serving to discover his victims and take part within the abuse, was poised to testify in opposition to him.

Lawyer Fred Thiagarajah, who represents the previous church youth group chief, stated Ocampo would have been the star witness who might corroborate the testimony of victims and supply context for the prosecutor’s case.

“She actively recruited and groomed women for him,” Thiagarajah stated. “She would goal women and produce them into his internal fold. She was tasked with sexualizing these women and facilitating their abuse.”

Ocampo advised women that in the event that they rebuffed the desires and needs of “the apostle,” they have been going in opposition to God, based on the costs.

She inspired women to put on skimpy outfits and dance for Garcia, who then “gave them a speech a couple of king having mistresses and said that an apostle of God can by no means be judged for his actions,” the costs said.

Ocampo advised three women that Garcia could be happy to obtain nude selfies of them and he or she even orchestrated pornographic picture shoots of them touching one another that she stated could be despatched to Garcia.

Garcia thanked the women for the pictures, based on courtroom paperwork.

One other feminine co-defendant who was a member of the church, Susana Medina Oaxaca, 27, pleaded responsible Friday to assault prone to trigger nice bodily damage, a misdemeanor.

Lawyer Pat Carey stated Oaxaca had confronted as much as 10 years in jail if convicted at trial and the responsible plea was in her greatest pursuits.

“It was additionally a aid to place a 3-year course of behind her relatively than endure a prolonged jury trial, 98% of which concerned proof that had nothing to do along with her,” Carey stated in an electronic mail.

Garcia had beforehand pleaded not responsible to 19 counts that included forcible rape of a minor and illegal sexual activity. A decide had thrown out 4 counts of extortion and sentencing enhancements for nice bodily damage for lack of proof.

Ocampo, 39, was charged with lots of the identical counts as Garcia — in addition to further expenses. She pleaded responsible to 3 counts of contact with a minor for a sexual offense and one depend of forcible sexual penetration involving 4 accusers. She is going to serve 4 years in jail underneath the settlement with prosecutors, Thiagarajah stated.

Protection legal professionals had stated prosecutors have been working underneath a far-fetched authorized idea that Garcia used non secular coercion for sexual pleasure.

“Prosecutors have repeated advert nauseum their novel idea that almost all of crimes charged on this case occurred not due to bodily restraint, bodily power, or concern of bodily power however as a result of the complaining witnesses had no different alternative however to conform as a result of they have been underneath the entire psychological and non secular thrall of Mr. Garcia and the La Luz Del Mundo Church,” protection lawyer Alan Jackson wrote in a courtroom submitting. “It’s a fantasy seemingly invented out of complete material.”

Prosecutors stated the victims have been basically brainwashed by Garcia and felt they’d be ostracized by the insular church neighborhood in the event that they didn’t undergo his needs. In denying a protection movement to dismiss the case, a decide stated Garcia used faith as “invisible handcuffs” to use his victims.

Garcia’s grandfather based the Guadalajara-based fundamentalist Christian church in 1926.
The church has tried to domesticate a law-abiding, hard-working picture in Mexico — the place it counts about 1.8 million followers. Its male members favor fits and brief hair, and feminine members put on veils that cowl their hair and modest clothes. There are about 1 million U.S. members.

Garcia took over as “apostle” after his father, Samuel Joaquín Flores, died in 2014.
Flores was additionally the topic of kid intercourse abuse allegations in 1997, however authorities in Mexico by no means filed felony expenses.

Ocampo stated she was sexually abused by Flores, Thiagarajah stated.

Ocampo had confronted a number of stress from the church neighborhood and her family when she turned on Garcia, Thiagarajah stated. Ocampo’s mom stated she doesn’t consider her and accused her of working for Devil.

“This church is a really darkish establishment,” Thiagarajah stated. “The scope of the abuse this man has dedicated on girls and kids is staggering and it’s been occurring for generations.”

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