Joaquin Garcia, 50, the leader of the Guadalajara-based La Luz del Mundo — The Light of the World — was arrested Monday at Los Angeles International Airport and was being held in lieu of $25 million bail after being accused of human trafficking and much more.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced on Tuesday that mega-church leader Joaquin Garcia and others associated with him face charges of human trafficking, production of child pornography, forcible rape of a minor, among other felonies.
Becerra says Garcia committed the crimes between 2015 and 2018 while leading La Luz Del Mundo, an international religious organization headquartered in Mexico with over one million followers reported worldwide.
In the criminal complaint, it is alleged that García and his “co-defendants” allegedly coerced victims into performing sexual acts by telling them that if they went against any of his desires or wishes as “the Apostle,” that they were going against God.
The criminal complaint alleges, among other acts, that Ocampo directed minors to perform “flirty” dances for Garcia “wearing as little clothing as possible.” Ocampo also allegedly ordered various minors to “take off their clothing and touch each other sexually.”
The complaint also alleges that Garcia kissed and groped a 15-year-old girl in his office, and that he and Ocampo forcibly raped an underage girl. Garcia, Ocampo and Oaxaca also allegedly performed sex acts on an underage girl, according to the complaint.
Ocampo also allegedly instructed three underage girls to take nude photos of themselves to send to Garcia, telling them to “take photos without their underwear and with their legs open.”
The other individuals named in the complaint are Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Melendez, and Susana Medina Oaxaca, all of whom are affiliated with La Luz Del Mundo. In addition to García, Alondra Ocampo and Susana Medina Oaxaca were also arrested.
An arrest warrant has also been issued for Azalea Rangel Melendez, who is currently at large.
Anyone who believed they may have been a victim of sexual abuse or have information about incidents of sexual misconduct related to anyone who may be involved in this case is asked to call 323-765-2100 or you can file a complaint online here.
Sexual abuse by any member of the church or clergy, regardless of the faith, is very tough on victims. Our Florida Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are highly aware of the importance of faith in peoples’ lives and how devastating it can be when abuse shakes that faith. We have seen how priests and clergy members abuse their positions of power, just like other sexual abusers, to take advantage of their congregation members to commit their crimes. Their victims are both female and male, adults and children.
When you have been abused by a church member and are brave enough to come forward, you are not turning your back on your faith. Asking your church, temple, synagogue or mosque to take your claim of clergy sex abuse seriously is a matter of enforcing the law. Religious institutions in the state of Florida, or elsewhere in the country, are not above the law when it comes to sexual assaults and sexual abuse.
We are very familiar with the process of “grooming,” in which a trusted person in authority pays extra special attention to a potential victim, often for months before the abuse starts. Grooming is what bonds the victim to the abuser, so that when the abuse starts, the victim feels helpless to do anything about it. The grooming process may involve attacking the victim’s self-esteem and attempts to isolate the victim from family and friends, so that the victim will not feel like they can tell them what is happening.
Victims of church or clergy abuse, sexual assault, and sex abuse deserve justice, which can be obtained in the civil justice system. By filing a civil suit, this allows victims to seek financial compensation for the physical, mental, emotional and economic damages caused by the abuse. Sadly, many sex abuse victims don’t know of their right to seek monetary damages.
Sexual abuse, child molestation, priest and clergy abuse, sexual assault, and other sex crimes are all too common and are often perpetrated by people we trust such as:
- Day care center employees
- Priests or religious leaders
- Camp counselors
- Doctors, dentists, counselors, psychologists and therapists