By JESSICA GUERRERO
MORELIA, Michoacán — June 9, 2022, marked a milestone in the history of the Church of La Luz del Mundo (Light of the World), the most prolific Mexican cult that for almost 100 years has ruled the life and customs of at least 5 million people around the world (1.5 million in Mexico), all of whom witnessed the arrest and imprisonment of their leader Naasón Joaquín García.
The self-proclaimed “Apostle of Jesus Christ,” Joaquín García, finally fell. The hegemony of three messianic generations of alleged abuse, unlimited power and every manner of sexual aberration within this cult, founded by Joaquín García´s grandfather in the 1920s in Central México, reached its most vulnerable moment after its current leader’s detention in 2019.
To the faithful believers of La Luz del Mundo, Joaquín García is more than the cult’s leader. He is seen as the Messiah, the envoy of God and the last apostle of Jesus Christ on Earth. However, to the long list of former cult members and now-victims who are crying out for justice, Joaquín García is a twisted mind capable of perpetrating the most terrible abuses against innocent adolescents and children.
The circumstances in which these alleged sexual crimes against minors took place were within a power relationship exercised by Joaquín García over those young victims who saw in him a supreme being before whom they owed, not only their spiritual fidelity but their bodies as well, so that he could dispose of them at his discretion regardless of their childishness.
Sadly, according to the victims, most of these abuses occurred before the eyes of the community and the families of the victims themselves, who agreed to having their children accompany and serve Joaquín García at all times, encouraging them to do whatever was needed to please him, as he was basically seen as God’s representation on Earth.
According to allegations made by some of the victims and former members of Light of the World Church, the administrative structure of the church even had a group dedicated exclusively to the recruitment and grooming of young parishioners, who would later be prepared to serve, entertain and intimately pleasure Joaquín García.
The Unconditionals, as the women in that circle close to Joaquín Garcia were known, in addition to serving as escorts, recruiters and personal assistants to the so-called Apostle of Jesus Christ, enjoyed a privileged status within the church and carried out important activities, such as managing the cult’s internal media content and organizing mass events, having to travel from the United States to Mexico on a regular basis.
However, these women were also considered exclusive to Joaquín García, and he was the one who had to give his approval so that they could marry another member of the community.
It was not until 2019 that one of Joaquín García’s closest Unconditionals, Sochil Martín, gave him the kiss of Judas and exposed the recurring sexual children exploitation system within the cult to U.S. authorities, resulting in the arrest of the Apostle of Jesus Christ and two of his closest Unconditional servants, Alondra Ocampo and Susana Medina Oaxaca, both of whom were accused of complicity.
Despite the fact that it was not the first scandal of alleged sexual abuse within the Church of the Light of the World that has become known since its foundation, this time it had a great impact and serious consequences due to the first-hand evidence that the plaintiffs presented, as well as the enormous evidence that U.S. authorities found against Joaquín García in his personal electronic devices.
Although Joaquín García’s defense has been led by Alan Jackson, one of the most sought-after lawyers in the United States, the biggest turning point came when Ocampo pleaded guilty to charges of sexual crimes against three teenagers.
According to the lawsuit filed by the victims, Ocampo took three young women to Joaquín García, inducing them, through biblical texts, to dance naked and then participate in sexual acts with Joaquín García.
Ocampo was sentenced to four years in prison for these crimes and was released in early December 2022 for having shown repentance for her actions and for having collaborated with the California prosecutors in the investigation to prosecute the cult’s leader, Joaquín García.
On the other hand, Medina Oaxaca was saved from going to jail after reaching a plea bargain with the California prosecutor, being sentenced to one year of probation after paying a $150,000 bail.
Finally, Joaquín García was accused of 19 crimes, among which were: sexual abuse of minors, rape, possession of child pornography and human trafficking. However, the defendant, on the advice of his lawyer, admitted guilty to three of those crimes, for lewd acts committed with a 15-year-old girl, and for doing the same with another 18-year-old girl.
This strategy allowed the expected sentence for Joaquín García to be reduced to 16 years and eight months, which generated great discontent among the victims, who had expected a maximum sentence for the defendant given the seriousness of the crimes of which he was accused and the impact they have had on their lives.
However, the three accused, as well as the wife and children of Joaquín Garcia still face a civil lawsuit filed by the victims before the Superior Court of Los Angeles.
According to this lawsuit, Joaquín García and other members of the church systematically abused their victims, who were mostly young women, and used religion as a weapon against them. This lawsuit, filed last September, seeks payment for damages caused to the victims.
Nonetheless, in the meantime, the millions of members of this cult are demanding the immediate release of their still-leader Joaquín Garcia. They insist that he is an innocent victim who has been framed and unfairly accused by the California Attorney General’s Office with false evidence.