Lamonica convicted of raping two sons

The Advocate, Louisiana/September 6, 2008

Amite, Louisiana - A Tangipahoa Parish jury convicted former Hosanna Church pastor Louis D. Lamonica of raping his two sons while both were boys under 11 years of age.

The jury deliberated nearly eight hours from Thursday afternoon through early Friday morning.

Lamonica, 49, of Hammond, faces a mandatory life sentence in prison without parole. State District Judge Zoey Waguespack is scheduled to pronounce sentence on Lamonica in her courtroom on Oct. 21.

Ten out of 12 members of the jury of seven men and five women informed the judge at 1:45 a.m. Friday that they found Lamonica guilty of four counts of aggravated rape for molesting his two sons in their childhood years.

Lamonica is the second of seven members of the now-defunct Ponchatoula church to be tried and convicted of committing child abuse that sometimes took place along with satanic rituals at the church.

As the court clerk read the guilty verdict, Lamonica put his head down in his hands. His mother and aunt cried silently as Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's deputies handcuffed and then escorted Lamonica out of the courtroom.

Lamonica's family members declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

Defense attorney Michael Thiel said he fears the pre-trial publicity surrounding Lamonica's trial and the charges against the other church members prevented his client from receiving a fair trial.

"I was concerned from the beginning that the venue remained here," Thiel said. "I just feel the pretrial publicity made it impossible to get a fair trial. "

Thiel said he will discuss options with his client, but he plans to file an appeal on his behalf.

Twenty-first Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said he was pleased with the verdict.

"The jury came in with the right, just verdict," Perrilloux said.

Assistant District Attorney Don Wall and Perrilloux said they did not know which one of the five remaining church members they would bring to trial next.

Since Aug. 22, the jury had listened to testimony about Lamonica's surprise confession to the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office about having molested his boys and revealing to investigators cult activities that took place at the church.

The jury also heard from mental-health and law enforcement personnel who learned about the abuse during interviews and conversations with the boys.

The jury also read hundreds of pages of confessional writings by Lamonica and his sons about the abuse.

The boys, now ages 22 and 18, took the stand last week to say their father never touched them. Lamonica himself testified last week to say the same.

Thiel told the jury Thursday afternoon in his closing arguments that Lamonica and his sons were coerced into making false confessions because they were being controlled by a self-proclaimed prophet who claimed to have visions from God. Once they were away from the prophet, they were able to finally tell the truth.

"Truth is stranger than fiction," Thiel assured the jury.

Wall told the jury in his closing arguments that Lamonica is simply a pedophile whose tale about being controlled by a so-called prophet is just as strange as what he did to his sons.

"I've been dealing with this case for three years," Wall told the jury, "and I still can't think the kinds of thoughts it must take to do the things he did."

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