The legal defense of Naasón Joaquín García, Church leader La Luz del Mundo, suffered another setback this Friday: a Los Angeles judge denied having reviewed more than 37,000 written messages stored in the cell phones of the five women who accuse the Mexican pastor of sexual abuse.
Naasón Joaquín has been detained in a Los Angeles prison since June 3, 2019. He is facing 19 criminal charges, including underage sexual abuse, rape, child pornography and human trafficking.
A judge has already established that there is enough evidence to prosecute him and gave him a record $ 90 million deposit, the highest in California history. He pleaded not guilty. It is expected that the next hearing on April 12 will determine the date on which the selection of the jury will begin.
It is not the first time that Naasón Joaquín’s lawyers have asked the court to review the devices of the alleged anonymous victims, identified by the government as ‘Jane Does’. Last Friday, the California prosecutor’s office called it “utterly absurd” and asked for the motion to be rejected.
According to attorney Caleb Mason, part of the team defending the pastor, there are 37,460 text messages, emails and other communications on the cell phones of the five prosecutors.
Those devices, along with other material evidence, are in a secret location in the city of Commerce, in southeastern Los Angeles. There’s also Naasón Joaquín’s iPhone, which supposedly contains the video from an orgy with a minor and recordings of girls performing sexual acts.
Investigators have stated in court that they discovered messages on seized devices that Naasón Joaquín had allegedly requested they will give the girls drugs so that they were “more accommodating” and did not know they had been abused, as well as dialogues about the pastor’s wishes to participate in “Sex parties” and arguing with his assistants about which minors to select for his harem.
Attorney Mason asked to verify the content of thousands of messages from the ‘Jane Does’ over a two-year period to determine their ‘behaviors’ and ‘actions’ while interacting with their client. He stressed that it would let him know where they were produced.
He stated that there are about 700 communications between one of the alleged victims, ‘Jane Doe 5’, an adult woman who sexually assaulted in a Beverly Hills hotel, and the co-suspect Alondra Ocampo, who pleaded guilty to four charges and is expected to testify against Naasón Joaquín.
“We must see what words in statements, thoughts, communications, recorded reflections (were made by) these five people, who, according to the accusations of the Prosecution, are the constant object in a period of two years of coercion, so severe as to affect their ability. to act of his own free will, ”Mason said at the hearing on Friday.
But Los Angeles Judge Clara Shortridge Foltz pointed out that “it is the duty of the Public Prosecution Service” to protect the personal information of those who denounce the leader of La Luz del Mundo.
Cannot access your accounts
In February, Naasón Joaquín’s lawyers managed to get them to do so interview 39 people they have been mentioned by one of the prosecutors. They were given a period of two months for this.
In Mexico, where Naasón Joaquín is also under investigation for alleged sexual abuse and tax evasion, the legal battle continues over bank accounts linked to this church and its leader.
A few days ago, Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) reported this on the order of a judge thawed nine accounts from La Luz del Mundo that was blocked in March 2020.
Hours later, however, the agency indicated that the congregation would not have access to the financial system because the decision was being challenged in the Supreme Court (SCJN).
Naasón Joaquín continues to run his church from a cell. Their teachings and commands are sent through family members, messengers and letters. Due to the pandemic, the congregation is conducting its rites and chats online. The church states on its Facebook page that it has carried it out more than 2,300 religious services a year and that produces more than nine million connections.