Joaquín García, La Luz del Mundo church leader, expected to be arraigned on sex-related charges

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Worshippers gathered to pray at the La Luz del Mundo church in East Los Angeles Wednesday in the wake of the church's leader Joaquín García facing human trafficking and child rape charges.

García and a 24-year-old church follower were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport Monday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's office said. García is expected to be arraigned Wednesday.

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Becerra filed 26 charges against him, ranging from human trafficking and production of child pornography to rape of a minor. García is being held in Los Angeles on $25 million bail.

A criminal complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges García committed the felonies over an approximately four year period.

Church officials insist the allegations are false.

He and his co-defendants are alleged to have coerced the victims into performing sex acts by telling them that refusing would be going against God. He allegedly forced the victims, who were members of the church, to sexually touch themselves and each other. One of his co-defendants also allegedly took nude photographs of the victims and sent the pictures to García.

The three other co-defendants are affiliated with La Luz Del Mundo, according to California officials.

The fundamentalist Christian church, whose name translates to Light of The World Church, is headquartered in Guadalajara, Mexico, and claims to have more than a million followers around the world.

There are dozens of congregations in Southern California.

According to church doctrine, García is an apostle handpicked by God.

The 50 year old is originally from Los Angeles and took over leadership of the church from his grandfather.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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