Hosanna pastor's sentence upheld

The Advocate, Louisiana/July 31, 2010

An appellate court has upheld former Hosanna Church pastor Louis D. Lamonica's aggravated rape convictions and life sentence for his role in a sex-abuse scandal at the now-defunct Ponchatoula church.

The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal rejected Lamonica's lone argument that his expert witness should have been allowed to testify at trial about false confessions and the influence of high-control groups or cults.

The 1st Circuit on Thursday found the area of research on false confessions caused by high-control groups to be "vague and speculative, at best."

Lamonica, of Hammond, was found guilty in 2008 of four counts of aggravated rape for abusing his two sons when they were age 11 or younger. He was given four concurrent life sentences.

Lamonica's trial attorneys contend he confessed to authorities and in writing that he raped his sons because a so-called prophet at the Hosanna Church controlled him.

Lamonica's sons, who were 18 and 22 at the time of the trial, testified they lied when they told authorities in 2005 that their father had abused them.

Last year, the 1st Circuit affirmed the aggravated rape convictions and life sentences of Austin "Trey" Bernard III, who was the youth pastor at Hosanna.

Bernard, also of Hammond, was accused of raping his 2-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old boy. He was convicted in 2007 on three counts of aggravated rape and given three consecutive life terms.

Bernard testified the children were coached to lie about the abuse by his now ex-wife and other women at the church.

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