Church leader charged with sex crimes against children, backed by followers

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The leader of an international church is in jail in Los Angeles County for sex crimes against children.

Naason Joaquin Garcia of La Luz del Mundo (Light of the World) church is charged with 26 counts including human trafficking by procuring a children to engage in lewd act, forcible rape of a minor, oral copulation of a person under 18, extortion, and child pornography. 

The church is headquartered in Mexico and is believed to have more than one million members worldwide. The church refers to Garcia as “The Apostle of Jesus Christ."

Misraim Trejo says, in the Houston area, the church has about 5,000 followers. Its regional headquarters is located in the 8300 block of Eastex Freeway. 

Trejo is serving as the local spokesperson for the church. He gave FOX 26 a look inside. Garcia's initials were displayed ornately around the building.

"Right now, more than anything, we’ve been asked to double up on our prayers to make sure to ask our Lord to help in this situation," Trejo told FOX 26 at the sight of women in veils and men praying and singing in the temple. The women and men were on different sides. 

On Tuesday, 50-year-old Garcia and three women were arrested. The women are Alondra Ocampo, Susana Medina Oaxac, and Azalea Rangel Melendez -- all reportedly church members.

Court documents detail disturbing allegations between 2015 and 2018 involving three underage girls. 

According to the documents, the girls were told that if they went against Garcia's wishes, they were going against God. 

"We categorically reject reach and every allegation made against him," stated Trejo.

Trejo is from the Los Angeles and attended a Luz del Mundo church there.

"I had the pleasure to meet [Garcia] for many years from my youth when I was in Los Angeles," he added. "He was a pastor at that church and I was able to see precisely that exemplary leadership in the service to God."

Trejo says Garcia visited the Houston church late last year. He adds the fundamentalist church believes this is a trial that is further unifying the church and they have full confidence in the justice system that Garcia will be proven innocent.

"This has always been the situation where there is false accusations, false allegations," he said. "But, God is always the one to come out in favor of his servants, in favor of his envoy. And, that is what we’re waiting upon."

Trejo adds during his time in Los Angles he never heard anyone accuse Garcia of sexual harassment or abuse.

"The apostle of Jesus Christ Naason Joaquin Garcia has always adhered to the law and he’s demonstrated full respect to the government institutions and to the dignity of all persons," he said referencing a written statement.

When asked if there have ever been concerns about sexual harrassment or abuse at the Houston churches, he said no.  

"Never has there been any allegations, never has there been any accusations of this type," he said shaking his head.

He says if there was an allegation of sexual abuse here, the church leaders know to contact police.

Garcia and the women are also charged in the sexual assault of an adult woman.