Alleged cult member arrested, another to be returned

Associated Press/May 25, 2005

Ponchatoula, La. Authorities began digging today behind a church suspected of being the home of an alleged cult that had sex with children and animals.

Crime scene experts from the F-B-I, along with police and sheriff's officers, conducted the dig with a backhoe.

Nine people have been arrested in connection with the investigation, but authorities say a dozen or more additional people could be involved.

In the latest arrest, F-B-I agents and East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputies took Patricia "Trish" Pierson into custody when she arrived at the Baton Rouge Municipal Airport on a flight from Tulsa.

Pierson was arrested as a fugitive and then transferred to Tangipahoa Parish, where she was booked on charges of sexual battery and principal to aggravated rape.

Another woman, Nicole Bernard, wanted on a charge of aggravated rape, has waived extradition in Ohio, and will likely return to Louisiana within 10 days.

Her ex-husband, Austin Aaron Bernard, was arrested May 17th on a charge accusing him of making a girl under the age of 13 perform a sex act -- a potential capital offense.

Seven of the eight people arrested, including Pierson's husband, Allen R- Pierson, remain in jail without bail, Covington said.

Lois Ann Mowbray was released on bond. She was arrested on counts of obstruction of justice and failure to report a felony.

The nine people arrested are believed to be the central figures in the alleged cult.

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