Credit: Courtesy

Former Santa Barbara County pastor and La Luz del Mundo church leader Naasón Joaquín García — known by his followers as “The Apostle of Jesus Christ” — was sentenced to nearly 17 years in prison Wednesday, after pleading guilty last week to multiple counts of sexual assault involving three different minors, according to a statement from the California Department of Justice.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the sentence of 16 years and eight months, which was the culmination of multi-year investigation and prosecution, which led to the arrest of García and two more church members in 2019.

Susana Medina Oaxaca, who pleaded guilty to assault likely to cause great bodily injury, was sentenced to time served and one year of probation, as well as six months of psychiatric counseling. Alondra Ocampo — convicted on three felony counts of contact with a minor for the purposes of committing a sexual offense and one count of forcible sexual penetration in 2020 — will be sentenced at a later date. A fourth suspect, Azalea Rangel Melendez, was charged but remains at large.

“Today’s sentence for Naasón Joaquín García is a critical step forward for justice,” said Attorney General Bonta. “While it will never undo the harm and trauma he caused as the leader of La Luz del Mundo, this sentence makes it crystal clear that abusers — no matter who they are — will be held accountable. Sexual assault is never acceptable.”

García will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.