LOS ANGELES -- Attorneys for the leader of the La Luz del Mundo church said Friday that the so-called apostle of Jesus Christ is innocent of the multiple sex abuse charges he faces and is instead a victim of attempts by his enemies to disgrace his reputation.
Standing next to church officials and family members of Naason Joaquin Garcia in front of the La Luz del Mundo church in East L.A., lead attorney Ken Rosenfeld said that thousands of women are ready to defend Garcia.
"The apostle is a victim in this case," Rosenfeld said. "He is a victim of technology, of a high-tech hit job, of people that have interests that have been negative ... to try to incriminate him and make it look like he did something wrong."
He did not elaborate on what he meant by "high-tech hit job," but it appeared to be a reference to some information spread about his client through social media and news outlets.
The statements came a day after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra urged more potential victims to come forward in the case his office has brought against Garcia, who is being held on a $50-million bail bond. La Luz del Mundo is the largest evangelical church in Mexico and Garcia is known as an "apostle" of Christ among its members, which church officials claim number more than 5 million.
Becerra said on Thursday that to his knowledge, Garcia's bail bond is the highest ever imposed on someone in Los Angeles County. Prosecutors, he said, had asked for such a high amount because they were worried that his followers could raise the money to free him from custody and that he would flee the country.
Co-counsel Allen Sawyer said the $50-million bail bond is unjustified and that Garcia does not have access to the church's bank accounts. According to Sawyer, under the rules of the church its funds cannot be used for Garcia's criminal defense.
"It was obviously falsely portrayed to the court that they need to set bail to an amount that punishes the entire faith," he said.
Rosenfeld stressed that Garcia is not a flight risk.
"He owes it to the 5 million faithful to go to court and to categorically disprove every allegation that has been made against him," he said. "He is the one that is looking forward to the opportunity to be in court and to be able to tell the world he is falsely charged."