Pastor's attorney warns about rush to judgment

Hosanna sex abuse suspects due in court Wednesday

ABC26 News/May 27, 2005
By Paul Murphy

Amite, LA -- Investigators are now pouring over a truckload of items collected during a three-day search of the Hosanna Church and the crude landfill they dug up in the back of the property in Ponchatoula.

Pastor Louis Lamonica, his wife and 7 others are accused of participating in satanic rituals where children and animals were sexually abused.

Tangipahoa Public Defender Reggie McIntyre represents 4 suspects in the case.

"There is no physical evidence," said McIntyre. "Everything is either innuendo, hear-say or statements from a third party."

The public defender says from what he knows and what he's heard, if crimes did occur at the Hosanna Church, they don't come close to rising to the level of aggravated rape of a juvenile which carries the death penalty in Louisiana.

"The devil cult you have there, you play with blood and all that kind of stuff and it could be endangerment to the children," said McIntyre. "It could be to the point where there is some sexual gratification or some molestation involved here, but not the sexual aggravated rape."

According to investigators and court documents, Pastor Lamonica is admitting to raping children at his home in Livingston parish. He's accused of similar acts at the Hosanna Church in Tangipahoa.

Lamonica's attorney Mike Thiel says it's too soon to call his client's admissions a confession.

"Was there any coercion?" asked Thiel. "Was there duress? Were there threats? Where there promises made? The whole issue of whether in fact any statement was free and voluntary is at the very heart of the credibility of any statement, given by any suspect."

Thiel complains there has been a rush to judgement in the Hosanna sex abuse case.

"I would merely suggest that if we wait until all of the facts come out in this case, that an entirely different position relating to my client will be shown," said Thiel.

At least four of the suspects are expected to be in court for a hearing on Wednesday June 1. The defense will ask investigators to give reasons why the suspects should remain jail.

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