Two weeks after Naason Joaquin Garcia, leader of the church La Luz del Mundo, was sentenced to almost 17 years in prison for pedophilia, a federal judge in Los Angeles removed the pause for information to be revealed about a federal civil lawsuit filed against him.
With this action, plaintiff’s attorneys Sochil Martin, who claims to have been a “sexual slave” of the Mexican pastor, they hope that the lawsuit proceeds “at full speed” and that it encourages other potential victims to denounce this minister, who was sentenced for three counts of sexual abuse against three adolescents who attended a temple in East Los Angeles.
In his lawsuit filed in a federal court in Los Angeles in February 2020, Martin accuses Naasón Joaquín, his relatives and bishops of La Luz del Mundo of being part of a “criminal organization” that for several years exploited it physically, economically emotionally and sexually.
Martin was the first woman who denounced the Guadalajara minister in California and that motivated five other women to break the silence.
“I’m not going to stop until this organized crime organization stops,” she told Univision News.
The order issued Thursday by Judge Fred W. Slaughter also determined that the California Attorney General’s Office, which is handling the criminal case in Los Angeles County Superior Court, no longer has an interest in Martin’s lawsuit.
“We see the lifting of the discovery stay in the Sochil Martin case as the beginning,” Jeff Anderson, Martin’s attorney, said in a statement.
“We hope this encourages all survivors, witnesses and whistleblowers who suffered sexual abuse while participating in the La Luz del Mundo criminal organization to take legal action and speak to the police if they have any information,” said attorney Deborah. Mallgrave, in the statement.
Lawyers for Naasón Joaquín were not immediately available for comment. The church, for its part, has not commented on the matter.
“We still have an open case”
Martin’s federal lawsuit is just one of the legal issues facing Naasón Joaquín.
The pastor is still under the scrutiny of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Mexican Prosecutor’s Office. While the National Security Investigations unit (HSI), focused on cases of child sex trafficking, confirmed to Univision Noticias that it had the self-appointed ‘Apostle of Jesus Christ’ in its sights, but closed the case for reasons that it did not explain and in a date not mentioned.
The FBI, for its part, has neither confirmed nor denied that it is investigating him. But at her sentencing hearing on June 8, the anonymous victim identified as ‘Jane Doe 5’, a young American woman living in Guadalajara, Mexico, recounted how FBI agents rescued her and her son because at one time the “bodyguards” ” of the Joaquín family had them “kidnapped”.
His testimony adds to what State Attorney Troy Holmes testified in court two years ago: that he accompanied FBI elements who interviewed a minor in Texas who allegedly appears in a sexually explicit video that was in the Shepherd’s iPhone.
“We still have an open case,” said a source from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (FGR) a few days ago, which since 2019 has interviewed ex-faithfuls in preparation for a case of alleged sex trafficking and money laundering. The official said that despite the reduced sentence Naasón Joaquín received in California, the Mexican government is still looking for victims.
“The case is still moving forward,” the source insisted.
The other lawsuit in Los Angeles
There is another civil suit that a young woman identified with the initials ‘HF’ filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. ‘HF’ is the seventh complainant of Naasón Joaquín in California.
This woman narrates in her complaint that she met the religious leader when she was nine years old and went with her family to a temple in San Diego, on the border between California and Mexico.
The church taught him from his childhood that the only representatives of God on Earth were the Joaquins and that “salvation can only be obtained by following the Apostle.”
“When she was a child, the plaintiff and her older sister met (Naasón Joaquín) García and they met García’s daughter,” describes the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Univision Noticias.
Already in her adolescence, Naasón Joaquín and other members of the church told HF and other minors that “they had been chosen to serve the Apostle and that they would be prepared to be part of a special and exclusive group of girls and young women at the service of the Apostle ”, mentions the lawsuit.
“Once Garcia assumed leadership of La Luz del Mundo and named himself ‘Apostle,’ Plaintiff continued to be informed that it was an honor to serve the ‘Apostle,’ and that her salvation depended on her doing what the ‘Apostle ‘ tidied him up and made him happy,” the suit continues.
By August 2018, when she was 20 years old, the young woman was selected to attend the Holy Supper, the most important celebration of the congregation that takes place in Guadalajara. Upon arriving at that event, the older sister of ‘HF’ took her to Naasón Joaquín’s bedroom, in a luxurious three-story house located next to the main temple, in the Hermosa Provincia neighborhood.
“Once in the bedroom, the plaintiff was forced to engage in sexual acts with Garcia and her own sister. Plaintiff did not consent to her or have any capacity to consent to her at the time because her participation in the sexual acts was compelled by coercion, threat, fraud, and force,” the complaint states.
The alleged abuse to the detriment of ‘HF’ occurred ten months before the pastor’s arrest.
The young woman was willing to testify against the ‘Apostle’, but could not because of the plea agreement that he signed. The lawyers of ‘HF’ and those of Naasón Joaquín agreed to stop the lawsuit until the criminal process was concluded.