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'True Detective' Legal Truths: Did a Real Case Inspire the Show?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

The critically acclaimed HBO show "True Detective" culled its inspiration from a variety of works, ranging from a collection of obscure art nouveau stories to low-brow pulp lit.

But did the existential neo-noir draw upon a real-life case of Satanism and child sex abuse in rural Louisiana in the early 2000s?

Reports are surfacing that "True Detective" eerily parallels the case of Hosanna Church in Tangipahoa Parish. (Spoiler alert: The following information gives away several plot points from the first season.)

FindLaw | True Detective: Legal Truths


Hosanna Church Sex Abuse Scandal

Mirroring the storyline in "True Detective," Hosanna was a once flourishing evangelical church in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. The church had thousands of members and supported schools for children in the area. But the congregation dwindled from 1,000 to 10 or 15 members because of a ferocious falling-out between the pastor's son and successor, Louis Lamonica Jr., and his family, The New York Times reports.

Similar to the show, a splinter cult reportedly formed by leaders and members of the Hosanna Church became a haven for sexually abusing children aged 1 to 16. The group was shrouded in reports of devil worship and satanic rituals with cat blood, pentagrams, and people dressed in black robes. The sex abuse of at least 24 children reportedly occurred in an empty room in the church's youth room. The walls were white, but under a blacklight, they were covered from floor to ceiling with satanic writing.

Powerful Sex-Abuse Cult Members

In "True Detective," Rust Cohle suspects that people in high places -- someone in law enforcement and high-ranking church officials -- were somehow involved in Dora Lange's death and the child sex abuse suffered at the hands of Reggie Ledoux.

In the Hosanna case, the church pastor's son and successor, Louis Lamonica Jr., and even a 24-year-old sheriff's deputy were among the adults arrested for being involved in the abuse ring. The former pastor admitted to abusing many children -- including his own sons -- over several years and teaching them to how to perform sex with each other and with animals. The pastor, the pastor's wife, the deputy, and at least six others were charged with aggravated rape of a child under 13. The pastor also faced charges for crimes against nature for sexual acts involving animals, CNN reports.

And yet, despite the heinous nature of the actual child sex crimes, it seemed it was the unsolved accusations of the occult that traumatized and disturbed the Ponchatoula community, according to The Daily Beast. That seems to truly capture the spirit of "True Detective": "something tantalizingly hinted at and lurking beyond the margins but never revealed."

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