"Oh my goodness, praise God." Such is the reaction of one of the followers of La Luz del Mundo, a Mexico-based megachurch whose leader had faced child rape, child porn, and human trafficking charges—which were dismissed on Tuesday. Naason Joaquin Garcia, known as the "apostle" to his 5 million followers around the globe, had been hit with 29 counts of felony charges in connection with alleged events involving three girls and a woman between 2015 and 2019 in Los Angeles County, reports the Arizona Republic. He had been held without bail in Los Angeles since June, reports the AP. A California appeals court dismissed them because his preliminary hearing was not held in a timely manner.
Specifically, he waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing (a "common move," per the AP) when he was initially arraigned on 26 counts in June. But he was arraigned on an amended complaint in July that added three counts; that time, he didn't waive his right. After the hearing was rescheduled a number of times, his lawyers appealed, and the court found he should have had his preliminary hearing within 10 days. The timing of his release isn't clear; the attorney general’s office could refile charges, reports the Los Angeles Times. La Luz del Mundo, Spanish for "The Light of the World" and the largest Protestant church in Mexico, was founded by his grandfather. (Read more megachurches stories.)