Judge hikes bail for La Luz del Mundo leader accused of child rape to $90 million

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Naason Joaquin Garcia appears in a Los Angeles courtroom for a bail hearing on Aug. 5, 2020. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Naason Joaquin Garcia appears in a Los Angeles courtroom for a bail hearing on Aug. 5, 2020. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A judge on Thursday set bail at $90 million for the leader of La Luz del Mundo church, all but ensuring that the religious leader, Naason Joaquin Garcia, will remain jailed as he awaits trial on charges of raping children and possessing child pornography, among other crimes.

The bail amount, set by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli, was staggering. Garcia’s attorneys had asked the judge to whittle down the $50-million bail imposed last year, when Garcia was first charged with sex crimes. Setting bail at $50 million was the functional equivalent of denying it, his attorneys argued, because no surety company could legally underwrite so large a bond.

Instead, Lomeli raised it by $40 million.

Citing testimony from an agent who investigated Garcia and messages retrieved from seized phones, Lomeli said he had seen evidence of “a systematic pattern of sexual assault of minors.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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