Oct 23, 2020
Extortion charges against La Luz del Mundo megachurch leader, Naasón Joaquín García, were dismissed yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Citing insufficient evidence, Judge Stephen A. Marcus ruled that the state attorney general’s office failed to demonstrate that García had threatened to disgrace his alleged victims if they did not engage in sexual acts.
However, Judge Marcus denied a motion by Garcia’s defense attorneys to dismiss the case against their client entirely, and left in place multiple charges, including human trafficking, forcible rape of a minor, and possession of child pornography.
DLG’s Founder & President, Samuel Dordulian, has written multiple essays about the Naasón Joaquín García case and what it means for survivors. In summation, Garcia is the self-proclaimed “apostle” of Jesus Christ, and leader of La Luz del Mundo megachurch in Mexico, which reportedly has a devoted congregation of 5 million followers worldwide.
Garcia and two co-defendants have been charged with dozens of felony counts, including forcible rape of a minor. Garcia also faces charges related to forcible oral copulation of a person under 18, unlawful sexual intercourse, committing a lewd act on a child, conspiracy, and possession of child pornography
Naasón Joaquín García’s alleged sex crimes are believed to have occurred in Southern California between June 2015 and June 2019. Garcia was arrested last year after departing his private jet at Los Angeles International Airport.
In August, Diana Callaghan, a deputy attorney general, indicated survivors have been subjected to “threats and intimidation” from La Luz del Mundo representatives. While multiple underage survivors have reportedly named Garcia and his La Luz del Mundo associates in the criminal trial, authorities believe there are numerous additional survivors who have yet to come forward.
If you or someone you love is a survivor of sexual abuse by a member of La Luz del Mundo Church, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced, dedicated, and compassionate sex crimes attorney at Dordulian Law Group at 800-880-7777. We are here to answer any questions you have and help you pursue a path to justice that is best for your specific circumstances.
As a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County and sex crimes prosecutor, Samuel Dordulian has extensive knowledge and experience in high-profile cases such as the Naasón Joaquín García trial. Dordulian believes the dismissal of the extortion charges will not have a significant bearing on the outcome of the cases against Garcia or the co-defendants.
“In the grand scheme of things, this [extortion charges] dismissal means very little to the prosecution,” Dordulian said. “The extortion charges did not carry a heavy sentence, and were minor when compared to the other sexual abuse charges. Several of the retained counts are what the defense and defendant should be worried about, because the sentencing range for those counts can effectively put Garcia and his co-defendants away for almost the rest of their natural lives,” he added.
“The only time those dismissed charges will have any significance is if Garcia is ultimately convicted of all the charges. In that case, he wouldn’t serve as long of a sentence due to the few extortion counts being dropped.” However, Dordulian noted, “if Garcia is ultimately convicted of the remaining charges, his sentence will likely be so long that the extra years from the dismissed [extortion] counts will be inconsequential.”
Garcia is being held on $90-million bail and has pleaded not guilty to all counts since his arrest in June 2019.
Samuel Dordulian confirmed that those dismissed charges should have no impact on any survivor’s civil lawsuit against Naasón Joaquín García, his co-defendants, or La Luz del Mundo megachurch church.
In fact, Dordulian pointed out that the judge’s comments on Wednesday should be viewed as favorable for both the criminal plaintiffs and any civil plaintiffs pursuing claims against Garcia and/or the church.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Marcus stated for the record that Garcia and his two co-defendants were exploitive, “using religion as invisible handcuffs.” That is a powerful assertion by Judge Marcus, which some could view as an indication of the strength of the state’s case against Garcia and Luz del Mundo.
“They used the fact that these girls were members of the church their entire life, and their families were members of the church,” Judge Marcus said. “They believed Garcia was the apostle of God, and they had to obey his wishes … Why else would these girls engage in sexual activities with Garcia?”
According to Samuel Dordulian, “The judge’s comment regarding the ‘invisible handcuffs‘ was spot on, and puts into context the weakness of any claims by the defense that these girls had sex with Garcia consensually.” Additionally, Dordulian added that a conviction in the criminal trial on that front would greatly aid the numerous civil suits that are expected to reach the courts once the criminal trial has concluded.
In California, sexual abuse survivors are able to file civil charges against a predator in addition to criminal charges (even if criminal charges may have been dismissed or the defendant was found not guilty). In sexual abuse civil lawsuits, which we at Dordulian Law Group handle every day – whether against institutions like the Boy Scouts of America, the Catholic Church, or individual abusers – the survivor is able to pursue justice through financial damages awards that must be paid by the abuser.
At DLG, we have experience fighting and winning cases against massive institutions that often seem intimidating or leave survivors concerned over the potential of retribution. Do not let any institution, organization, or individual intimidate you into believing you can’t obtain the justice you deserve. With DLG fighting in your corner, you have a fierce advocate in Los Angeles’ top-rated, premier, and most successful sexual abuse firm. We have recovered over $100 million for survivors like you, and are never afraid to take any case to trial.
For over 20 years, Dordulian Law Group has been fighting to secure justice on behalf of sexual abuse survivors. We offer clients a unique type of thorough, individualized, all-encompassing representation through our Sex Crimes Division’s SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts).
With our four-tiered SAJE Team representation, clients receive support and resources that can only be found here at DLG. Our SAJE Team members include:
Together, our SAJE Team members work tirelessly to ensure you receive the justice you deserve and recover a maximum financial damages award for any abuse endured.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and workers compensation concerns.