A Los Angeles Superior Court judge found sufficient evidence to allow the case for 36 charges on sexual abuse and rape, among other crimes, against the leader of the Light of the World megachurch, Naasón Joaquín García, and two members of the aforementioned church to stand trial.
On Tuesday, Judge Ronald S. Coen gave the order for García to stand trial over almost two dozen felony counts, including forcible rape of a minor, and other crimes allegedly committed in Southern California.
The decision was made after almost two weeks of hearings in which several witnesses were presented as well as the collected evidence of the cellphone that was seized from Joaquín García the day he was arrested in Los Angeles, last June 3, 2019.
Joaquín García, who is 51 years old, is charged with 23 felony counts, including forcible rape of a minor, forcible oral copulation of a person under 18, unlawful sexual intercourse, lewd act on a child, extortion, conspiracy, and possession of child pornography.
Last August 6, a Los Angeles court established a USD $90 million bail against the religious leader, an amount considered an “anticipated sentence” by his church.
Joaquín García’s defense had tried to have the case dismissed over technicalities in the procedure by taking it before California’s Second District Appeals Court that dismissed the legal procedure in April, reason why his lawyers expected his release considering the coronavirus pandemic.
The California Attorney Generals Office refiled the accusations against Joaquín García and two of his alleged accomplices, Alondra Ocampo and Susana Medina Oaxaca, and for a total of 36 counts.
The new accusation cites five victims, one of whom is identified as Jane Doe 5, who would have been sexually abused in February 2016.
The prosecutors claim Ocampo allegedly asked minors to get naked and take pictures of their genitals to send them to Joaquín García.
On September 2017 and January 2018, Ocampo took three girls to a building and “provided them with school girl costumes, ordered them to touch their bodies, and take pictures of them doing so,” according to the prosecutors.
Ocampo is accused of 27 felony counts including forcible rape, forcible sexual penetration, human trafficking by procuring a child to engage in a lewd act, production and distribution of child pornography, and contact with a minor for a sexual offense.
Meanwhile, Oaxaca is charged with two felony counts on for forcible oral copulation of a person under 18.
A fourth defendant, Azalea Rangel Meléndez, has a search warrant issued against her.
Joaquín García, Ocampo, and Oaxaca will return to the court on September 1 for arraignment.
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