Church Rape Trial Resumes Monday

By Debra Lemoine
The Advocate
August 24, 2008

AMITE — Testimony is scheduled to resume Monday in the aggravated rape trial of the former pastor of Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula.

Louis D. Lamonica, 48, of Holden, is being tried on four counts of aggravated rape for allegedly abusing his two young sons when they were 11 years old or younger.

Under Louisiana law, an aggravated rape conviction carries an automatic life sentence in prison.

Jury selection for Lamonica's trial lasted for three days as Lamonica's attorney, Michael Thiel, and prosecutors Don Wall and Le'Anne Malnar interviewed 56 Tangipahoa Parish residents in order to pick the seven men and five woman to serve.

Opening statements began Friday and a single witness was called by the state in order to introduce as evidence handwriting samples collected by a Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's deputy.

Testimony will resume Monday morning, when the state is expected to call various law enforcement personnel, play recorded statements and allow the jury to read writings by Lamonica and his two sons about the alleged abuse.

The trial, held in the 21st Judicial District Courthouse in Amite, is expected to end no later than Thursday, state District Judge Zoey Waguespack told the jury last week.

Lamonica is the second member of the now-defunct church to go to trial after seven were indicted in 2005 on complaints of committing sex acts with the same three children.

Former church member Austin "Trey" Bernard III, 39, is serving a life sentence on his Dec. 3, 2007, aggravated rape conviction.

Trial dates have not been set yet for the remaining indicted church members.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.