The Ponchatoula Case
A tiny church in small-town Louisiana will be the focus of a criminal trial; the pastor confessed to ritual/sexual abuse of children.
In May 2005, a former pastor named Louis Lamonica, Jr., walked into a police station in Livingston, Louisiana, and admitted that he and several other members of his church congregation had sexually abused children (and a dog) in the years 1999-2003 (when Hosanna Church of Ponchatoula shut its doors). He admitted to molesting two boys from the age of 4 until they were 12 or 13. Amazingly, Lamonica was stunned when Livingston police arrested him - he thought he was reporting crimes, not confessing to them! At any rate, it was hardly news to the police. They had first heard of the abuse a week earlier, from an Ohio woman named Nicole Bernard. Bernard told police she had fled Louisiana to protect her two children from pedophiles in Lamonica's congregation.
Within a couple of weeks, 9 former members of Hosanna Church had been arrested and charged with aggravated rape of children under 13. Among the accused were a Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's deputy, Lamonica's 45-year-old wife Robbin, the church pianist, Nicole Bernard, and Bernard's ex-husband. This is when things started to get really weird. Several of the accused and some of the witnesses stated that Hosanna Church had been a cover for a Satanic sect that conducted ceremonies involving pentagrams, animal sacrifice, and black robes. Lamonica himself said that he had ritually sacrificed cats and poured the blood over children forced to take part in the ceremonies.
Hosanna Church was started by Louis Lamonica Sr., and during his lifetime was a vibrant body of at least 100 members. When Jr. took over the reigns in 1993, membership plummeted until barely a dozen congregants remained. Lamonica was, by all accounts, a strange and difficult man, a demanding and over-controlling pastor. No one suspected that he was a child molestor and a Satanist, however. Somehow, in a quiet town of 5000 that is known for its Strawberry Festival (and its plethora of churches), this behaviour didn't catch anyone's attention.
I have to wonder: Did the accused fabricate stories of devil-worship to justify their sexual abuse of children and animals? Is it all a "Satan made me do it" smokescreen? It seems entirely possible, however, that Lamonica turned to occultism after Christianity didn't work out for him, and secretly gathered a handful of followers who were attracted to children and/or Satanism. The unsolicited confessions of Nicole Bernard and Louis Lamonica lead me to believe that this could be one of the few authentic instances of ritual abuse in the U.S.
8 adults are currently awaiting trial on charges of aggravated rape of children (all 4 men are accused of abusing 3 children, two boys and a girl); a 54-year-old woman has been charged with failing to report the abuse. The prosecutor has made it clear that allegations of Satanic worship will not be included in the trial.
May 19/05 90 WAFB Baton Rouge (CBS affiliate) news report by Matt Clough
Mormon Ritual Abuse?
Famed Latter Day Saint apologist Hugh Nibley has been accused of ritualized molestation by his grown daughter, a columnist for O magazine.
In 2005, 42-year-old motivational speaker and author Martha Beck released her memoir of breaking away from the Mormon (LDS) Church, entitled Leaving the Saints. Mrs. Beck was one of 8 living children born to the influential Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley, a prolific scholar and foremost Mormon apologist. In her book, Beck claims her father sexually molested her between the ages of 5 and 9, and did so in a ritualistic manner (whilst chanting ancient Egyptian phrases and Bible passages). Mrs. Beck began to "recover" the memories of incest as an adult, though she says she has traumatic memories she never suppressed, as well.
There is a small amount of physical evidence in this case, but it doesn't point directly to Mr. Nibley molesting his daughter. We may never know what really happened. It is significant, however, that Mrs. Beck's 7 siblings have refuted her allegations (see hughnibleydefense.com). Is the family in denial about possible abuse, especially now that Mr. Nibley is no longer alive to defend himself? Is Mrs. Beck mistaken about the events of her childhood? If abuse did occur, was it occultic/ritualistic in character? Time may tell.
Mrs. Beck is a successful author and life coach who has a regular column in O magazine. She deals with sensitive issues that most mainstream columnists sidestep: Loneliness, loss of faith, toxic relationships, etc. Oprah has called her one of the most intelligent women she has ever met.