Victim’s lawyer reacts to Naasón Joaquín García’s guilty plea
In a landmark indictment against the leader of a church that claims millions of members across the United States and Mexico, Naason Joaquin García53, has pleaded guilty to three counts of sexually abusing young girls at his Light of the World church.
The self-proclaimed “apostle” faces a conviction this week, but the five “Jane Does” who are due to testify against him in court are disappointed with the outcome, according to their lawyer Jonati Yedidsion.
“I think they wanted an opportunity to really let the world understand what they were going through,” she told Law&Crime. “As you can imagine, they were upset, but they’re glad there was at least an admission of guilt.”
“What is remarkable in terms of assessing the merits of this case is that the court decisions were not necessarily all made on the merits, but rather on procedural issues,” Yedidsion said. “We plan to file a civil suit with an opportunity to present all the evidence.”
Under the terms of his deal with the California Attorney General’s office, Garcia was only allowed to plead guilty to three of the 36 charges he originally faced: two counts of violent copulation with a minor and one count of indecent assault on a child as young as 15 years of age old was .
Attorney General Rob Bonta said Garcia abused his authority as a religious leader to “exploit children” while using his subordinate “to groom parishioners for sexual assault.”
A former church member who helped advance the criminal investigation, Sochil MartinShe was “furious” with the result, she said.
“This is a slap in the face to the victims. Society needs to hear from them, not just Naason. He needed to be fully prosecuted in court so the victims could tell their story,” she said.
Garcia was arrested three years ago and his trial was scheduled to start today.
For his followers, Garcia can do no wrong and represents Jesus on earth as the self-proclaimed “apostle”.
His church continues to support Garcia, calling the result an “injustice” in a statement from the church’s spokesman. Silem Garcia posted on Twitter. “They publicly defamed him and the expected verdict was obvious, there could not have been a fair trial.”
“We will wait for you,” the statement added.
Fue evidente la injusticia que se cometió desde su detención.
Lo difamaron public and era obvia la sentencia anticipada que se tenia, no podía haber un juicio justo, pues le negaron presentar sus pruebas y testigos.
Seguiremos juntos en la adversidad.
— Silem Garcia Peña (@Silemgarcia) June 4, 2022
While the “Jane Does” will not testify, they will be allowed to provide victim testimony at the sentencing hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
Garcia and the Church continue to be tried in the civil lawsuits against him by women who say they were his victims.
In addition to serving a prison sentence, Garcia will be permanently registered as a sex offender in California.
[image via AL SEIB/AFP via Getty Images]
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