Brian Ross Investigates

Allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls are investigated against the leader of a fast-growing, fundamentalist sect, claiming five million members worldwide in 58 countries and one million in the United States. The church leader, Naasón Joaquín García, claims to be the apostle of God.

Watch the full episode:

Authorities say that he allegedly told the girls that by refusing him, they would be refusing God.

Allen Sawyer Represents Naasón Joaquín García

The church calls itself The Light of the World. Its leader is 50-year-old Naasón Joaquín García. Videos posted by the church show his followers treating him like a holy figure. His charismatic appeal has helped the church spread from its roots in Mexico across the United States and beyond.

California authorities say there is a dark side, a cult of personalities used by García to take advantage of some of his youngest followers.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that García and three of his church leaders are charged with what he called a major sex trafficking and sex abuse case involving at least three teenage girls who were in the church. He called the church leader “sick” and “demented.”

According to the AG, “The types of crimes belong nowhere in our society. From human trafficking, production of child pornography, oral copulation, rape, statutory rape, child molestation, extortion, conspiracy, and more.”

The bail has been set at 50 million dollars—the highest bail amount ever set in Los Angeles County—because they feared he would flee the country if the bail were not set large enough.

The church has bought a huge tract of land in Flowery Branch, Georgia, of more than 300 acres to create its own “city.” The plans include a church, resort hotels, and a shopping center. Flowery Branch is a town with 8,000 people, and locals are trying to stop it, saying that it has similarities of a cult.

Businessman David Nixon said, “It’s more about the leader [García]. It’s more about his glory and you can only get to heaven through this guy and his family.”

Now, with the new criminal charges against church leader Joaquín García, local residents in Georgia are more determined than ever to keep the development out.

Brian Ross Interviews Allen Sawyer

California Criminal Defense Attorney, Allen Sawyer, has been chosen to represent García, along with Attorney Ken Rosenfeld. García remains behind bars.

According to Mr. Sawyer, “It’s a very unusual amount of bail, and I think it’s based on a false premise that you should take into account the assets and wealth of a church when determining one’s bail.”

“The church has a rule that says the funds cannot be used for any criminal defense. My client is entering a plea of not guilty. We expect to have a bail hearing next Friday, and we’re extremely confident that he will be allowed to have a reasonable bail, and this case will proceed in due course, and he will be found not guilty.”

“The Attorney General did an unprecedented press conference, where he claimed my client was an animal, demented, and sick. That is completely inappropriate for a prosecutor to do. The presumption of innocence is supposed to be present in a case. There should be no attempt to taint the jury pool. Mr. Becerra crossed the line and violated ethical standards in the press conference on the allegations the way they’ve been presented at this point.”

Contact Us

For more information about Allen Sawyer, the Naasón Joaquín García case, or to learn about California criminal defense for your state or federal case, please contact us.