Residents in the small Georgia town of Flowery Branch say they are “almost jubilant” to see charges of rape and sexual abuse being brought against the leader of a church that had planned to develop a 300-acre religious center in the rural community of 8,000.
Naasón Joaquín García, the leader of the Light of the World Church, has been charged by the California attorney general with raping and abusing four teenage girls who prosecutors say were told they had to submit to his sexual demands to please God.
In a hearing this week where García was denied bail, Judge David Fields said, “religion was used against these girls. Victims were told that if they didn’t comply they were sinning. They were told that a king could have mistresses. And what is particularly disturbing to the court, is the allegation essentially that they would be ‘going against God if they disobeyed.’”
The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“We don’t want to hear about anyone being victimized, especially children,” said Doug Davis, one of the leaders of the small town’s opposition to the church project. But he told Brian Ross on the Law&Crime Network program Brian Ross Investigates, “we’re almost jubilant and we feel a sense of validation in the fight that we’ve been trying to stop this complex from being built in our neighborhood. So it’s bittersweet.”