HBO’s Unveiled: Surviving La Luz Del Mundo explores the story of alleged sexual abuse, many relating to minors, within a Mexico-based Christian megachurch called La Luz del Mundo (LLDM). In the true-crime docuseries, several survivors share their stories of abuse they have suffered at the hands of the powerful religious group’s successive leaders, known as the “apostles.” In 2019, the church’s head, Naasón Joaquín García, faced 36 charges, including human trafficking, rape, child pornography, and forcible oral copulation of a minor, according to the Los Angeles Times. Here’s where he is now.
Citing crimes dating back to 2015, the California Department of Justice arrested García, aka the Apostle, in 2019 at Los Angeles International Airport, along with two other church members, Susana Medina Oaxaca and Alondra Ocampo, and held him on $90-million bail. (LLDM, which claims a membership of more than 5 million in 50 nations, has locations in East and West Los Angeles, Orange County, and Palm Springs.) The grandson of the church’s founder, García maintained his innocence following his arrest but eventually pleaded guilty in June 2022 to two counts of forcible oral copulation on a minor and one count of committing a lewd act on a child in exchange for a reduced sentence of 17 years behind bars.
Despite the conviction, García’s followers pledged to stand by him. “The Apostle of Jesus Christ has had no choice but to accept with much pain that the agreement presented is the best way forward to protect the church and his family,” the church said in a statement to CBS News at the time.
In September 2022, the Associated Press reported that thousands gathered to pray for their absent leader at the church’s main temple in Guadalajara, and “to gasps of surprise,” García addressed the congregation by telephone from his Los Angeles prison. “I do not see the bars that separate me from you,” he told the congregants. “I see your beautiful faces ... because you are the children of God.”
Per the AP, near the end of the call, he asked his followers to raise their hands and their voices to God and repeat after him: “I promise you, Lord, that whatever the suffering, I will never abandon you.” Loyalists, like 49-year-old Sara Pozos, told the AP that the La Luz Del Mundo leader’s imprisonment has “united the church” and changed it “for the better.”
Meanwhile, five women, known as Jane Does, who said García sexually abused them between 2015 and 2019, filed a civil lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeking damages against the church. They also named García, his wife and children, and three other women in the suit, who they said either knew about the abuse or helped groom them for García. According to the suit, the victims said they were “routinely coerced” since they were children to believe that García’s wishes were direct orders from God and that if they didn’t obey, it would “lead to catastrophic consequences including, but not limited to, eternal damnation, unspeakable tragedy, infertility, and countless other harms.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org.