Defense attorney: Lamonica was manipulated to confess

WWLTV News, Louisiana/August 22, 2008

Three years after the Hosanna Church scandal made national headlines, former Pastor Louis Lamonica walked into the Tangipahoa Parish Courthouse Friday morning to stand trial.

Assistant District Attorney Don Wall addressed jurors first in opening statements, saying, "What you will hear is vile, disgusting, disturbing."

Wall then proceeded to lay out his case, which he says, will include multiple confessions from Louis Lamonica, including one back on May 16, 2005, when Lamonica voluntarily walked into the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Department and confessed to detectives that he began sexually abusing the two boys from the time they were five or six and the abuse stretched on for years.

Don Wall said the jury will hear that confession and others, including 260 pages of sexually explicit writings from Lamonica, detailing how the child molestation happened.

Wall said Lamonica voluntarily confessed because he wanted to make a deal in exchange for what he would tell them about cult activity inside the now defunct Hosanna Church.

Lamonica's attorney, Michael Thiel began his opening remarks by saying, "Louis Lamonica did not rape, molest or sexually abuse any child."

Thiel didn't argue that Lamonica confessed, but says another church member, Lois Mowbray, manipulated and controlled him and nine others.

For 80 minutes, Thiel told how he says Lamonica was confused, sleep deprived, humiliated and, ultimately, coached by Mowbray into all of his confessions.

He says, investigators were up to their eyeballs in a lie, and he told jurors, "Sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, the truth is stranger than fiction."

The gag order remains in the case, so no attorneys are allowed to speak to the media on camera. The six-man, six- woman jury is not sequestered, so they are home for the weekend. The trial resumes Monday morning.

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