First Civil RICO lawsuit against Naasón Joaquin Garcia and LLDM will proceed in full swing
(Los Angeles, CA) – On June 23, 2022, the Honorable Fred W. Slaughter of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California issued an order dissolving the stay of disclosure and discovery in the lawsuit captioned, Sochil Martin v. La Luz del Mundo, et al. (Central District of California Case No. 2:20-cv-01437-FWS-AS) (“Sochil Martin v. LLDM”).
In the case of Sochil Martin v. LLDM, Plaintiff was the first person to allege that multiple defendants within La Luz Del Mundo Church including former so-called Apostle, Naason Joaquin Garcia, are liable for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (“RICO”), violating California’s Child Victims Act (AB-218), running a sex trafficking ring, and financially exploiting members young and old, among other abuses.
“We see the lifting of the discovery stay in Sochil Martin’s case as just the beginning,” said attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates.
“We hope this encourages all survivors, witnesses, and whistleblowers, who endured sexual abuse while participating in the criminal organization of LLDM, to take legal action and speak with law enforcement if they have any information,” said attorney Deborah Mallgrave of Greenberg Gross LLP.
By way of background, on June 4, 2019, Defendant Naason Joaquin Garcia, the leader of the La Luz del Mundo church (“LLDM”) was charged, along with three co-defendants, with sexually assaulting and/or trafficking four Jane Does, three of whom were minors, in the case entitled People v. Garcia, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BA475856, subsequently refiled as Case No. BA484133 (“People v. Garcia”).
On June 12, 2020, Intervener People of the State of California filed a motion to intervene and stay disclosure and discovery in Sochil Martin v. LLDM to prevent the disclosure and discovery of the identities of the alleged victims and witnesses in People v. Garcia based on the People’s contention that the conduct Plaintiff describes in her civil complaint in Sochil Martin v. LLDM is, in significant part, the matter factually alleged in the criminal complaint in People v. Garcia, and, therefore, the cases involve overlapping issues of fact.
On September 29, 2020, the court granted the motion filed by the People of the State of California to intervene and stay disclosure and discovery. The disclosure and discovery stay was continuously in effect and set to expire on July 9, 2022.
However, on June 3, 2022, Defendant Naasón Joaquín García pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible oral copulation on a minor and one count of committing a lewd act on a child, and, on June 8, 2022, Defendant Naasón Joaquín García was sentenced to sixteen years and eight months in prison in the People v. Garcia.
Given the conclusion of People v. Garcia, the Court and parties determined that the disclosure and discovery stay was no longer necessary, and the People of the State of California no longer have an interest as an intervener in Sochil Martin v. LLDM.