Former St. Tammany Sheriff Stands Trial for 8 Counts of Sex Crimes

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Three hours from Lake Charles, a man who spent two decades as sheriff of St. Tammany Parish is standing trial for a litany of sex crimes allegedly committed before and during his role as top law enforcer. 

Jack Strain, 58, is on trial for eight counts of sex crimes involving juveniles: four counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest, and one count each of indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery.

The trial began on Monday, October 25 and will continue until November 8, at which point the jury will decide whether Strain spends the rest of his life in prison.

The prosecution led by District Attorney Warren Montgomery seeks to portray Strain as a lifelong offender whose heinous acts spilled over into his role as Sheriff.

The prosecution’s witnesses include Mark Finn, a former family friend who claims Strain began sexually abusing him at the age of 6, and Skip Keen, a former coworker at the fireworks stand where, he claims, Strain molested him throughout the 1970s.

The abuse continued for decades.

As Strain avoided being found out, he grew more confident, adding more victims to his horrific repertoire and intimidating them into submission. The former sheriff held so much power that his victims claim they were frightened to come forward for fear of losing their jobs, their homes, and their families.

Most of the current allegations against Strain were uncovered during a federal corruption investigation that led to the former sheriff being voted out of office in 2015. The investigation spawned inquiry into Strain’s sex crimes, a discovery that shocked the community and the state. 

Not all citizens of St. Tammany Parish were shocked, however. Much of the evidence that prompted Strain’s 2019 arrest was collected by the community watchdog group, Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany. A representative of CCST, Terry King says Mark Finn came to the group in 2018, telling his story and asking for help. 

Of Strain’s trial, King says “A lot of people aren’t going to believe what they’re hearing, and there are going to be a lot of people who are completely sickened by it.”

But Strain’s time in court doesn’t end with this trial. The disgraced former sheriff will also stand trial in federal court on December 6 for 16 corruption charges tied to an alleged kickback scheme at the work-release program that he privatized during his time as sheriff. Read more about those charges and upcoming trial here.

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