Hammond -- A former Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's deputy faces 24 counts of possessing child pornography in connection with alleged child sex abuse at a Ponchatoula church, but the child pornography does not depict the alleged abuse, authorities said Monday.
Christopher Labat, 24, of Hammond, was previously booked on three counts of aggravated rape and single counts of failure to report child abuse and malfeasance in office. He was booked on the additional felony counts concerning child pornography Friday, Laura Covington, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said.
Labat is one of nine people affiliated with the Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula whom authorities suspect had sex with children as part of "occult rituals" from 1999 to 2003. The additional counts of possessing child pornography against Labat came after FBI and Sheriff's Office investigators searched his home and seized some computers, Covington said.
Some suspects in the alleged child sex abuse case have told authorities that they took pictures of themselves abusing the children. The child pornography seized from Labat's home is "generic" and does not depict images of that alleged abuse, Covington said.
Labat's attorney, Gary Jordan, was returning from an out-of-town trip and could not be reached for comment Monday.
Labat faces counts only in Tangipahoa but is being held without bond in the Livingston Parish jail, Covington said.
Investigators continue to sift through videotape, photographs and computers seized from other suspects' homes, storage units and the church looking for evidence, Covington said.
Authorities began arresting suspects May 16. One of the suspects has said he had sex with children and animals. More arrests could come later.
In addition to Labat, the suspects are Louis David Lamonica, 45, of Tickfaw; Robbin Lamonica, 45, of Holden; Patricia Pierson, 54, of Hammond; Allen R. Pierson, 46, of Hammond; Paul Fontenot, 21, of Hammond; Nicole Bernard, 36, of Columbus, Ohio; and Lois Ann Mowbray, 54, of Ponchatoula. Mowbray was arrested and booked on counts of obstruction of justice, failure to report a felony and accessory after the fact to aggravated rape.
District Attorney Scott Perrilloux has said he plans to convene a grand jury June 24 to hear the charges. Eight of the nine accused were arrested on counts of aggravated rape of a child under 13, which carries a possible death penalty.
Perrilloux is the district attorney for the 21st Judicial District, which comprises Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes.
Perrilloux may file charges against defendants in the parish courthouses in Livingston, Amite or both, depending on which crimes he chooses to prosecute. The limitation is that the state must prosecute the defendants in the parish where the crimes occurred, Perrilloux said.