Latest: Judge continues huge bail for megachurch leader

June 21, 2019
1 of 11
Naason Joaquin Garcia appears in court in Los Angels on Monday, June 10, 2019. Prosecutors in a case against the leader of Mexico-based megachurch La Luz del Mundo and two followers charged with child rape and human trafficking said they have "significant concerns" the church's followers could harass or intimidate victims and potential witnesses. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the case against the leader of Mexico-based megachurch La Luz del Mundo (all times local):

1 p.m.

A judge has continued the extraordinary $50 million bail for the leader of Mexico-based megachurch La Luz del Mundo but says prosecutors must offer more evidence of their child sex and human trafficking allegations at the next court hearing.

Prosecutors said Friday that 50-year-old Naasón Joaquín García poses a threat to “hundreds of girls” if he gets released.

Joaquín García and his two co-defendants have pleaded not guilty. Another defendant remains at large.

Prosecutors say their preliminary review of evidence shows the alleged sexual abuse goes beyond the initial charges and more may be forthcoming.

The case is scheduled to return to court on July 15 for an evidentiary hearing to determine if the bail should change.


12:05 a.m.

The leader of Mexican megachurch La Luz del Mundo returns to court in a child rape and human trafficking case.

Naasón Joaquín García and his co-defendants are scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday for an arraignment and bail review hearing.

They were arrested earlier this month, and 50-year-old Joaquín García is being held on $50 million bail, believed to be the highest ever set in Los Angeles County.

Prosecutors have said there may be more victims and say they fear the church’s followers_more than 5 million globally_could raise his bail.

Joaquín García is the church’s self-proclaimed apostle. He has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers say comments by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra may have tainted a potential jury.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.