California has charged the leader of a Mexican megachurch that has proposed a large multiuse development in Flowery Branch with child rape and human trafficking, the Associated Press has reported.
Naasón Joaquín García, the self-proclaimed apostle of La Luz del Mundo, was charged Wednesday, July 29, with three dozen felony counts, according to the AP.
The charges were filed months after a court dismissed the previous allegations because of prosecution errors.
According to AP, prosecutors contend Garcia and two others committed sex crimes and produced child pornography involving five women and girls who were church group members. The crimes took place between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County, authorities said.
García is the spiritual leader of La Luz del Mundo, which is Spanish for “The Light Of The World." The Guadalajara, Mexico-based evangelical Christian church was founded by his grandfather and claims 5 million followers worldwide. Garcia has previously denied wrongdoing.
Jack Freeman, LLDM spokesman, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The church has proposed building a 272-acre complex off Hog Mountain Road in Flowery Branch. The project calls for a hotel, retail, and multifamily and single-family homes. It also proposes a school site, fellowship hall, administrative offices and cultural center/park.
No application has been filed on the project, and a website describing the project appears to be down, with the message “This site can’t be reached.” Hall County tax records show the church still owns the property in question.
“The city has not heard from them at all,” Flowery Branch city planner Rich Atkinson said Friday, July 31.