Thursday, September 15, 2005

DA to seek new indictments in Hosanna Church sex case

DA to seek new indictments in Hosanna Church sex case


Florida parishes bureau

AMITE -- The 21st Judicial District Attorney's Office will seek from a grand jury on Friday new indictments of at least one of the seven members of a Ponchatoula church charged with raping children, Assistant District Attorney Don Wall said Wednesday.
The new indictments don't represent additional evidence or crimes but reflect a change in the aggravated rape statute that went into effect on Aug. 15, 2001.

Wall said he made an error in the dates for the indictments issued in June and will be able to correct it Friday.

Oral sex on a child under age 12 was included in the aggravated rape statute in 2001, Wall said. Previously, the crime fell under the aggravated oral battery statute, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if victims are under age 12, Wall said.

The new indictments are being sought after a state judge on Wednesday tossed out one of the two aggravated rape charges against Robbin Lamonica, 46, of Holden, who is accused of performing oral sex on an infant girl in 2000 and 2001.

During Wednesday's hearing, Lamonica's attorney, Duncan Kemp, asked that the second count to be thrown out because the District Attorney's Office could not pinpoint the exact dates of the alleged crimes in 2001, Wall said.

District Judge Zoey Waguespack denied that motion and the second count remains.

Wall has said the three victims of the alleged sex ring can't pinpoint exact dates but have told investigators that the sex acts occurred non-stop during a five-year period.

Wall said he also filed four counts of aggravated oral sexual battery against Lamonica on Wednesday. Those counts accuse Lamonica of having sex with a boy from 1992 to 1994 and a girl from 2000 to 2001.

Kemp said he will also ask the judge at a hearing in October to quash those counts and to reduce Lamonica's bond.

Wall said he will seek new indictments based on alleged crimes occurring after the law's date change for Robbin Lamonica and any of the other six who might be affected when a grand jury convenes in Amite on Friday.

Reached late Wednesday, Wall said he had not had time to review indictments of the other six to determine if he needs to include them.

Lamonica, along with her estranged husband and five other church members, were investigated by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office in connection with the alleged rapes of three children from 1999 to 2003. The accused are members of the now-shuttered Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula, and investigators have said they believe some of the alleged crimes occurred there.

Lamonica's estranged husband Louis David Lamonica, 45, of Tickfaw was scheduled to appear in court as well on Wednesday, but his hearing was postponed.

In addition to the seven church members who were indicted, two others were arrested in connection with the investigation.

One of them, Nicole Bernard, 36, of Columbus, Ohio, got out of jail last month by posting $300,000 bail, Wall said. Bernard, who is accused of aggravated rape, is considered a whistleblower in the case by being the first to alert authorities to the alleged crimes.

Wall said he has not determined whether to indict her as well.

Lois Mowbray, 54, of Ponchatoula was arrested as an accessory to aggravated rape and was released on bond in May.

Allen Pierson, 46, of Hammond is the only indicted church member who is free on bond. He is accused of four counts of aggravated rape.

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