LOS ANGELES (AP) — California authorities have charged the leader and self-proclaimed apostle of La Luz Del Mundo — a church based in Mexico that claims over 1 million followers — with child rape.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that Joaquín García has been arrested and charged with committing 26 felonies in Southern California between 2015 and 2018. The charges also include human trafficking and producing child pornography.
Charges filed in Los Angeles allege that García and others coerced underage victims into performing sex acts by telling them that refusing would be going against God.
García was being held on $25 million bail. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
The church has been the subject of child sex abuse allegations for years but authorities there have never filed criminal charges.