Spiritual Leader in Mexico Arrested thanks to AG Investigation in California
The head of a large, independent Mexico-based church has just been arrested in California on charges of human trafficking and child rape but remains the spiritual leader of the group. We applaud Attorney General Xavier Becerra for bringing these charges and hope other AGs across the nation will emulate his actions in this case. For the safety of children and vulnerable adults, we also call on church officials to suspend the accused while the legal process plays out.
Naasón Joaquín García of the La Luz del Mundo church will be arraigned on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. But the initial evidence against him is substantial so it is crucial that vulnerable adults and innocent kids are protected from him immediately. That can best happen if his church staff and colleagues oust him from his role, even if it is just temporarily. We hope they will act promptly but prudently.
AG Becerra is also holding a news conference to urge other victims to come forward, a smart and compassionate move. The investigation against Joaquín García was initially prompted by a call into AG Becerra’s abuse hotline, so we hope this example will encourage other AGs around the country to set up a hotline of their own and be sure to include all religious groups (not just Catholics) as they reach out to victims of religious and institutional sexual violence.
We are grateful to the church members who are cooperating with law enforcement. That takes real courage. We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes in the La Luz del Mundo church will call the AG, get outside help, start to recover and help protect the vulnerable.
CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Board Member (firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-341-6417), Joey Piscitelli, SNAP California (email@example.com, 925-262-3699) Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator, (firstname.lastname@example.org, 925-708-6175), Esther Hatfield Miller, SNAP Los Angeles (562-673-9442, email@example.com), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)