Former Louisiana sheriff charged with rape, incest dating back to 1975

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A former longtime Louisiana sheriff has been arrested on rape and incest charges dating back to 1975, authorities said.

Former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain, 56, was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury on two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest, sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile in alleged sex crimes involving four victims that occurred between 1975 and 2004, St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced.

The charges followed an 18-month probe after Louisiana State Police, FBI and IRS officials presented evidence to his office that Strain — a former police chief in Abita Springs before being elected sheriff in 1995 and serving for 20 years — committed some of the sex crimes while he was serving as St. Tammany Parish’s top cop, Montgomery told reporters.

“The results of that investigation were presented to a grand jury, which returned an indictment this morning,” Montgomery said. “I have a duty to pursue justice when a crime has been committed. The grand jury also has a duty and when presented with evidence that makes a determination of probable cause evident to them, they returned an indictment in this matter.”

Montgomery declined to take questions from reporters on the allegations. If convicted of aggravated rape, Strain faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

A message seeking comment from Strain’s New Orleans-based attorney, Billy Gibbens, was not immediately returned.

The aggravated rape accusations regarding two victims span a period between June 1975 and September 1981, meaning Strain would have been as young as 12 or as old as 18 at the time.

One of Strain’s alleged victims said the former sheriff began molesting him when he was just six years old.

“He started off molesting me, and it got to the point of raping me,” the alleged victim, Mark Finn, told KALB. “I’ve been waiting for this to happen, you know? I mean, while he was the sheriff the whole time, he controlled me and my family. I just didn’t think anyone was going to believe me.”

Strain also allegedly committed aggravated incest on a third victim between April 1996 and July 2002, and aggravated incest and a sexual battery on a fourth person in June 2004, Montgomery said.

Strain, whose bond was set at $400,000, was in custody late Wednesday at St. Tammany Parish Jail, a facility he previously oversaw for two decades prior to losing a re-election bid in 2015, the New Orleans Advocate reports.

But a bond hearing was held Wednesday to approve moving Strain to another facility, a spokeswoman for Montgomery told the newspaper.

The sickening allegations arose out of a separate federal investigation involving two of Strain’s former deputies who pleaded guilty in February in a kickback scheme related to a work-release program, WVUE reports.

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