“My pastor was my rapist.” An Alabama pastor is accused of raping, torturing, and sexually abusing multiple children, including the rape of a 9-year-old girl on her father’s grave.
AL.com reports Mack Charles Andrews, a pastor at the conservative United Pentecostal Church, First United Pentecostal Church in Thomasville, Alabama, is accused of sexually torturing, abusing, and raping multiple underage victims.
One of Andrews’ victims spoke about the abuse using the pseudonym “Jane” to conceal her identity. Jane reports Andrews allegedly started “grooming” her for sexual abuse when she was only 7.
Jane says she lost her virginity to her pastor on her father’s grave when she was just 9 years old, and explains how Andrews used religious superstition to terrorize her:
He told me if I didn’t say anything, he would come back and put flowers on the grave. If I did, he said demons would come and get me from my bed.
AL.com reports Jane was subjected to sexual torture prior to the rape, noting Andrews allegedly violated her with drumsticks, pens, letter openers, a figurine and even a flashlight, “grooming” her for future sexual abuse.
Jane reports the heinous abuse began when she was only 7 years old and was part of the “grooming process” to prepare her for the rape she would endure two years later. Jane said Andrews “started grooming these girls early,” before stating:
A 7-year-old girl isn’t ready to take a full grown man.
Raw Story reports the abuse allegedly went on for years. Jane told authorities her abuse at the hands of Andrews lasted 5 years (from age 7-12) until she left the church.
Jane said she doesn’t know how many victims exist but believes it was a great many. Describing the conservative United Pentecostal Church, a church that forbids girls from wearing make-up or pants and requires females to wear floor length dresses, Jane said:
It was like a cult. He was the leader, and we were the sacrifices. I think there were a lot of people who were ashamed to come forward.
Pastor Andrews was originally arrested on Oct. 3, 2013 on multiple counts of rape, sexual abuse, attempted rape, sodomy and sexual torture, according to court records.
In January 1990, Andrews allegedly raped another girl, then 13, another warrant states. Andrews allegedly attempted to rape another 13-year-old girl in March 1990, yet another record states. In summer of 1994, Andrews allegedly sexually abused a 16-year-old girl.
Andrews, who has been in jail for the last two years, was in court yesterday, Sept. 22, for a settlement docket, but he did not enter into a plea settlement.
However, at the request of Andrews’ attorney, Clarke County Judge Robert Montgomery issued a gag order on the case. Andrews attorney requested a gag order on all involved in the case including alleged victims, and also requested the order cover social media outlets such as Facebook.
Trial is set for the week of Nov. 16. If convicted, Andrews faces life in prison.
UPDATE: Andrews pleaded guilty to raping, sexually abusing and sodomizing multiple young girls beginning in the 1980s and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Weeks after she was fired from her job as administrator in Lucas County, Ohio, former “first lady” of Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo Laura Lloyd-Jenkins has now joined her husband, the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, behind bars for allegedly obstructing a sex trafficking investigation against him.
An ABC 13 report said Lloyd-Jenkins could now face a maximum prison sentence of up to 28 years if she is found guilty of one count of obstructing a sex trafficking investigation along with one count of making a false statement.
She pled not guilty to the charges against her when she appeared in court last Friday but was remanded in custody by Judge Jack Zouhary. Authorities allege that Lloyd-Jenkins, 43, notified a defendant of the pending investigation in March, then made false statements to law enforcement about her knowledge of the conduct alleged in the April indictment.
The former administrator and her husband were once partners in faith at Abundant Life Ministries until April 7 when Rev. Jenkins, 46, and Rev. Anthony Haynes, 38, were arrested by the FBI for sex trafficking of children.
Lloyd-Jenkins was placed on paid administrative leave from her county job in August after previously being placed on disciplinary suspension in July for “failure of good behavior,” ABC 13 reported. She had also resigned from the Lucas County Children Services board after federal agents revealed she was aware her husband had sex with a teenager and never reported it. In her position with the county, Lloyd-Jenkins managed a $500 million budget and more than 3,000 county employees.
“We think she is no longer the right person to serve in the capacity of county administrator, the highest non-elected position in Lucas County,” Pete Gerken, president of the board of commissioners, said when she was fired last month.
Court documents cited by ABC 13 said Butler, Rev. Jenkins and Haynes sexually assaulted a juvenile girl beginning in 2014 through 2017. The victim was allegedly 14 when the assaults began while in Haynes’ custody. Some of the assaults allegedly took placed at the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo.
Haynes also routinely paid the girl money after the sex acts and warned her not to say anything about their activities as it would ruin his family and his church.
Haynes further shared the victim with other men, including Rev. Jenkins, court documents say. Jenkins allegedly sexually exploited the girl at his home on Barrington Drive repeatedly, as well as at his office at Abundant Life Ministries and at a motel in Toledo. He reportedly paid the girl and recorded some of their activities with his cellular phone. He allegedly also caused another underage girl to engage in commercial sexual activity in March 2017.
Family members and friends who reportedly packed the courtroom in support of the men last month became emotional when they learned that all three pastors could spend the rest of their lives in prison if they are found guilty.
Jenkins’ wife will have a detention hearing on Dec. 21.
A new civil lawsuit filed Thursday against religious leader and self-proclaimed “Apostle” of La Luz Del Mundo, Naason Joaquin Garcia, contains shocking allegations of abuse.
The filing, made in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, came as the religious group is holding its “Holy Supper” event at the Pomona Fairplex, attended by thousands.
It also comes more than eight months since Garcia, the Mexico-based megachurch’s religious leader, was arrested in Los Angeles on dozens of felony child rape and human trafficking charges. He has been held without bail in downtown L.A.’s Men’s Central Jail since then, after the court refused to grant bail citing him as a high-flight risk.
The lawsuit filed by Sochil Martin, a former Luz Del Mundo member, marks the first time a former La Luz Del Mundo church member has spoken openly about abuse allegations. Martin’s lawyers held a news conference Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles to detail her claims against the religious organization, Garcia and other top leaders of the organization.
The 34-year-old woman says she grew up deep in La Luz Del Mundo, primarily attending the flagship temple in East L.A.
Martin says she was groomed as a child, beaten, forced to work for no pay for the church’s communications department, and raped dozens of times over two decades by ‘The Apostle’ Naason Joaquin Garcia and his father, Samuel Joaquin Flores.
Martin’s complaint alleges a ring of child sexual slavery and financial manipulation within the church and points fingers at Naason Joaquin Garcia’s family members and La Luz Del Mundo bishops, many of whom are based in Southern California.
“For nearly 22 years, I was made to work for, travel for, lie for and give my body to an organization who saw me as nothing more than a source of profit and sexual pleasure,” Martin told reporters gathered at the offices of Greenberg Gross in downtown Los Angeles Thursday. “Hundreds, if not thousands of other children before me and after me suffered the same fate.”
Church officials rejected Martin’s account Thursday morning.
“I think it’s just a ploy for attention,” said Jack Freeman, La Luz Del Mundo’s U.S. spokesman and minister of its temple in Redlands. “It’s hatred being manifested towards the Church to disrupt our biggest and holiest event.”
Freeman told LAist he hadn’t read the complaint, but confirmed that Martin was a former church member who had once worked for La Luz Del Mundo’s communications arm, Berea International USA.
WHAT IS LA LUZ DEL MUNDO?
La Luz Del Mundo (full name “Church of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of the Truth, The Light of the World”) was founded in Guadalajara in the 1920s by Naason Joaquin Garcia’s grandfather Eusebio Joaquín González, the church’s first self-proclaimed apostle.
La Luz Del Mundo is Mexico’s second-largest religious movement, after the Catholic Church. It’s a Protestant Christian religious movement that considers itself a restoration of early Christian church.
The Light of The World reports 1,500 temples in 58 countries and between 1 and 5 million members worldwide.
It has a big presence in California, with more than 50 temples, including churches in East L.A. and Pasadena.
Joaquin Garcia’s father, Samuel Joaquin Flores, led the church from 1964 until 2014.He was the subject of sexual abuse allegations in 1997, but never faced criminal charges.
La Luz traditions are unfamiliar to many in the U.S. Churches offer three prayer services each day. Male and female worshippers sit on opposite sides of churches. Women wear long skirts and cover their heads with lace veils. Church members aren’t supposed to drink, smoke or gamble. The church does not celebrate Christmas or Easter.
As a minority religion in heavily Catholic Mexico, La Luz Del Mundo members have faced some marginalization and persecution.
WHAT IS THE HOLY SUPPER?
This event is the U.S. twist on the group’s annual Santa Cena gathering at the church’s historic headquarters in Guadalajara — which draws hundreds of thousands of the church’s millions of members every August in honor of the founding apostle’s birthday.
It’s a sacred rite and ritual for Luz Del Mundo members. Several cups filled with wine (or grape juice) are shared among their thousands of members.
This U.S. version was first held here in 2018, to signal the church’s growing role in the U.S. under Naason Joaquin Garcia’s leadership.
The ritual itself is scheduled to take place Friday evening, in part commemorating the former apostle Samuel Joaquin Flores’ birthday.
“It’s a moment of spiritual renewal where we are able to break bread, drink wine and regain our connection with God and Jesus Christ,” said Genesis Coronado, a spokesperson providing a tour of the Pomona Fairplex. “As humans, we have moments of sin, and this event allows us to reconcile with God.”
Church officials estimated more than 10,000 members showed up to celebrate in Pomona. There are five more sites around the country, including San Diego, Phoenix, Chicago, Dallas and Wanshington D.C.
NEW ALLEGATIONS FROM ‘THE INNER-CIRCLE’
Sochil Martin is stepping forward and alleging years of abuse and manipulation growing up deep inside the religious group’s flagship church in East L.A,, where the jailed church leader and self-proclaimed “Apostle” of the religious movement was once a pastor.
In her civil complaint, Martin says she was trafficked throughout the U.S. and Mexico, beaten and raped dozens of times and even forced to have sex with children — all to satisfy the desires of “the two Apostles,” Naason Joaquin Garcia, and his father Samuel Joaquin Flores.
Martin also claims that since age 16, La Luz Del Mundo’s senior leaders forced her to do more than 30,000 hours of unpaid work for the church’s communications arm, International Berea USA. which is run out of East L.A. and was established by Naason Joaquin Garcia in 2009.
Martin alleges church leaders used their positions of power to benefit from her trafficking and unpaid labor. She named 12 additional people in the lawsuit, including several bishops in La Luz Del Mundo, some of Martin’s former bosses at the Church’s communications department and Naason Joaquin Garcia’s family members.
She alleges a widespread culture of coercion and control inside the organization. Martin says countless members have been forced to work for LDM. The complaint claims most of the employees at Berea International were unpaid.
“For far too many La Luz Del Mundo members, everything they have is taken by LLDM. Every dollar they make goes to La Luz Del Mundo because they truly believe their money will be used to do the work of God on Earth,” Martin said. “But all the hard-earned money goes to making Naason and his enablers rich.”
Martin claims, on one occasion, LDM members in Southern California were encouraged to donate gold jewelry and heirlooms to the Apostle, which were melted down and used to paint the molding on his new home in Los Angeles.
She says members are pressured to give whatever they have to the Church, including homes, which are then either used by the Apostle’s family or rented out to other LDM members for revenue.
“As thousands gather to celebrate the Holy Supper, Naason’s followers will call me a liar and coerce members into giving their last pennies into helping Naason fight me and people like me,” Martin said.
Martin says cash donated at La Luz del Mundo’s temples feeds Naason Joaquin Garcia’s lavish lifestyle. According to the complaint, Naason Joaquin Garcia owns two private ranches in Redlands and South Texas, which house exotic animals and vintage cars.
Sochil left the Church in 2016. Since 2018, She’s been working with authorities to help investigate and prosecute La Luz Del Mundo’s leaders.
WHAT’S HAPPENED IN COURT SO FAR?
Naason Joaquin Garcia and several co-conspirators were arrested last June and charged with dozens of felonies in a case filed by California Department of Justice. Garcia was first held on record high bail in L.A. county, and now without bail oncharges involve three girls and one young woman in L.A. county in recent years. Garcia had denied the charges.
The case has been dragging in the pre-trial phase since Naason Joaquin Garcia’s dramatic arrest at LAX, at least in part because the child victims in the case were guaranteed anonymity when they reported alleged abuse to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office.
But the criminal case filed today is the first where a former member of the church is publicly accusing La Luz Del Mundo and its leadership of manipulation and sex abuse. Sochil’s attorneys, from Greenberg Gross and Jeff Anderson & Associates, said they hoped more victims will come forward.
Church officials and active members maintain the innocence and righteousness of their leader and Apostle. Spokesman Jack Freeman says despite the new allegations, the Holy Supper is going on as planned and has already resulted in hundreds of baptisms around the U.S.
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