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Mexican megachurch leader gets prison sentence for sex crimes

A silver colored dome with a sliver of stained glass peaks over Interstate 10 just west of downtown Phoenix.

The distinct structure anchors a branch of a church based in Mexico whose leader has been sentenced to prison in California for sex crimes against young followers.

Naasón Joaquín García, leader of the Mexican megachurch La Luz del Mundo, or the Light of the World, was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison.

The California Attorney General’s Office says just before going on trial, Garcia pleaded guilty to sexual assault involving three children.

Garcia is considered an apostle of Jesus Christ by his millions of followers.

A statement posted to social media by the Phoenix branch of the Light of the World says Garcia pleaded guilty to avoid a longer prison sentence.

The statement alleges he would not have gotten a fair trial. It ends saying Garcia still has the full confidence of his followers and will continue to minister.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.