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New Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against Leader Of La Luz Del Mundo Church

Naason Joaquin Garcia,, a Latino man, sits in an orange jumpsuit in a courtroom, wearing black -frame glasses, with an earpiece in his ear.
La Luz Del Mundo leader Naason Joaquin Garcia at a 2019 bail review hearing.
(Al Seib
/
AFP via Getty Images )
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A new sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed against Naasón Joaquín García, leader of the Mexico-based La Luz Del Mundo megachurch, and other high-ranking church members. Earlier this year, García pleaded guilty to sexually abusing three girls who were involved in his church, and is currently serving a sentence of nearly 17 years in state prison.

The five plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles last week, are named as Jane Does; their lawyers say they were also listed as Jane Does in the criminal charges filed against the church leader by the California Attorney General’s office.

The church did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One of the attorneys representing the five plaintiffs said this new suit seeks to at least partly make up for the fallout from a plea deal that García struck with criminal prosecutors earlier this year, which allowed him to plead guilty to far fewer sex assault charges than he was set to stand trial for.

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“The civil lawsuit is the Jane Does’ second opportunity to really achieve justice that was lost due to a lot of mistakes which were made at the criminal level,” attorney Jonati "Joey" Yedidsion said at a press conference Monday in downtown L.A.

“We ultimately hope to secure responsibility on behalf of Naason, the church, and its individuals at the highest level for all of the abuse that they committed, not just the few where he ultimately pleaded guilty to,” she said.

“Ultimately the abuse they experienced is catastrophic, to say the least,” Yedidsion added, saying three of the Jane Does were minors at the time their abuse began.

Lawsuit Alleges Years Of Assaults On Church Members

The suit alleges that García conditioned his victims “to serve him above all else,” according to a statement from the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“Under the guise of religion, Naason and other church members groomed the 5 women ... ultimately resulting in the sexual abuse, molestation, [and] sodomy … of the victims over the course of years,” the statement reads.

Among other things, victims were coerced into pornographic “photoshoots” and dancing for García nude or in their underwear, according to the complaint. On one occasion, a 14-year-old girl was instructed to “receive the blessing of delivering coffee to Naason in his office, undressed.” She was then “groped, fondled, molested, kissed, sexually assaulted, abused, and harassed by Naason on this visit.”

The lawsuit also alleges that other church leaders tried to “silence” the victims and discourage them from approaching law enforcement. The plaintiffs, according to the statement, will remain anonymous.

The plaintiffs were all church members in L.A. County, Yedidsion said, where much of the abuse alleged in the complaint occurred.

Support Network For Victims

Two female former church members who are not part of this lawsuit but who said they were also abused by church members were at the press conference. They did not wish to share their names, but said they would be part of forthcoming litigation.

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“I want those other victims to know that they are not alone,” said one woman, 45, who said she was born into the church and was sexually abused as early as age 10. “Back when we left the church, there was no support or someone who we could go to. We were very alone, very afraid.”

Now, she said, there is a support network for additional victims who choose to step forward. “My hope is that they realize that they don't have to fear not being believed anymore, that they will be believed,” the former church member said.

García, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced to prison by a judge in L.A. in June after working out a plea deal with prosecutors shortly before his trial was set to begin.

He ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible oral copulation involving minors and one count of a lewd act upon a child, although he had been facing multiple other charges. Previously, a case against him was dismissed on procedural grounds in 2020.

A former member filed a federal lawsuit in 2020 alleging sexual abuse by church leaders.

The church, whose name in English means Light of the World, is a Pentecostal Christian church founded in the 1920s by García’s grandfather in Guadalajara, Mexico. It has members around the world, with multiple locations in the L.A. area.

Many of his followers consider him an “apostle” of Jesus Christ.

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