|Pastor’s Trial May Resume This Week
By Debra Lemoine
September 1, 2008
Court closed during hurricane
AMITE — The child-rape trial for former Hosanna Church pastor Louis D. Lamonica is expected to resume this week when the 21st Judicial District Courthouse reopens after Hurricane Gustav.
Lamonica, 49, of Hammond, faces four counts of aggravated rape in the alleged abuse of his two sons when they were 11 years old or younger. He is the second of seven church members to face trial after being accused of molesting children. All seven people were indicted in 2005.
Tangipahoa Parish government officials have closed the courthouse until Wednesday because of concerns about the potential danger from Hurricane Gustav, according to an order that hung on the courthouse doors on Friday.
The trial will resume when the courthouse reopens, state District Judge Zoey Waguespack told jurors on Friday.
Two very bizarre versions of how Lamonica either allegedly molested children or how he falsely confessed to doing so have emerged over the six days of testimony presented so far.
Defense attorney Michael Thiel has maintained that his client falsely confessed to raping children because he was being controlled by a self-proclaimed prophet, Lois Mowbray.
Mowbray, 56, formerly of Ponchatoula, had been arrested by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office in May 2005 as an accessory after the fact to rape and failure to report a felony. Mowbray was never charged by the District Attorney’s Office and was never brought before a Tangipahoa Parish grand jury.
Thiel offered testimony from three former church members, a Hammond mega-church pastor and his client to describe how Hosanna declined from the thriving ministry of Lamonica’s late father into a Christian cult at the church grounds on Old U.S. 51 in Ponchatoula.
By 2002, the worship services at the church focused on the public confession of sins and vomiting to cast out demons of sin, former church members have said.
Mowbray also taught the concept of spiritual thought, where lusting after a person was the same as physically having sex, Thiel has said. Lamonica and others testified that this meant if you thought about a sin, you did it and had to confess it.
The judge did not allow testimony from a defense expert on forensic psychology who was expected to testify on how to judge the veracity of abuse allegations made by children.
After prosecutors objected to allowing the expert and offered state Supreme Court case precedent to support their position, Waguespack ruled that the expert’s testimony is inadmissible because the jury, rather than an expert, determines the veracity of witness testimony.
Assistant District Attorney Don Wall presented testimony from four mental-health professionals to whom the Lamonica boys disclosed the abuse. A Livingston Parish Sheriff’s detective also testified about Lamonica’s confession.
The jury also read copies of hundreds of pages of handwritten statements by the boys and Lamonica describing the alleged abuse as well as a taped statement made by the younger son about the abuse.
A FBI agent testified about a lack of physical evidence at the church and a handwriting expert also testified in the case.
Lamonica’s taped confession was also played in open court.
Lamonica had confessed to law enforcement how he groomed the boys to have sex with him. He also talked about a child-sex ring at the church that involved almost all of the members left at the church.
The sex-ring was part of the rituals of a satanic cult that formed at the church in 2001, according to the confession.
The last witnesses called by prosecutors were Lamonica’s sons, who both told the jury that they were never abused. They, too, allege their confessions were the result of Mowbray’s control. In this case, Mowbray controlled their mother and had her coerce the boys into accusing their father, the boys had testified.
Mowbray is not expected to testify in this case.
At least one more day of testimony is expected in this case before the case is given to the jury to deliberate.
Attorneys could not comment for this report because Waguespack issued a gag order in August 2007 that prevents attorneys and the defendant from talking to reporters about this case.
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