#childmolestor | Jack Strain trial comes to a close; closing arguments set for next week



Jack Strain, who spent two decades in St. Tammany Parish’s top law enforcement seat, will spend the next two weeks in a different seat: The defendant’s chair.Strain, 58, went to trial last week amid accusations of abusing multiple juveniles before and during his time as sheriff. A total of 16 jurors were chosen. This brings the total number of jurors to 12 with two alternates sworn in. Graphic testimony has been heard for over a week.District Attorney Warren Montgomery will seek to paint Strain as a lifelong predator. The list of potential witnesses includes 52-year-old Mark Finn, a former Strain family friend who claims Strain began sexually abusing him when he was 6. “It’s going to be a rather salacious two-week period,” said Terry King, with Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany, the watchdog group that provided much of the evidence that prompted Strain’s arrest in June 2019. “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.”Strain’s eight counts include the following: four counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest and one count each of indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery.State, defense rest: The state and the defense rested in the Strain trial on Friday. Closing arguments are slated for Monday. The jury will be allowed to go home for the weekend, but were told to bring extra clothes on Monday in case deliberations go long. Strain did not testify during the trial. Court will resume on Monday at 9 a.m. Another family member takes the stand:A fifth accuser and family member of Strain took the stand and alleged he was raped multiple times.He detailed the first time it allegedly happened in the late 1970s, saying he was about 9 years old.On the stand, he said, “He would take my clothes off and tell me just to relax– at the time I didn’t know. Jack was bigger than I was.”He also alleged that in the 1980s, he and Strain were visiting a relative who was dying in the St. Tammany Parish Hospital. He alleges Strain touched him in the elevator.Years later, the accuser said he worked at the sheriff’s office as a reserve deputy before Strain was sheriff.When Strain became sheriff, the accuser said he asked Strain to make him full-time.He says Strain touched him, so he left.Around 2019, he alleges Strain’s wife delivered his son. That’s when he told his ex-wife. He eventually decided to report the alleged abuse to law enforcement around 2019, but no charges were filed in his case.Sex crime charges were filed for four other accusers who came forward.Strain says he is innocent and added the allegations are false and do not add up.U.S. Postal worker testifies: A United States Postal Service worker took the stand in the Strain trial on Thursday. The inspector said she focuses on child exploitation in her position. “What I learned pretty quick: The Strain family is deep-rooted in this community. The family reputation has a lot to lose,” the postal worker said during questioning by the state. The inspector described all of Strain’s victims as people who were missing father figures. The inspector said she pulled records from the attics of the Abita Springs Police Department that showed he worked there in 1981 and supported the victim’s timeline of abuse. One of the accusers said they remembered seeing a police uniform in Strain’s home at the time of their alleged rape. The inspector said they used a search warrant to find a portrait that another accuser drew of Strain while he was an inmate when Strain was sheriff. During cross-examination, Strain’s attorney said that it was no secret he worked at the Abita Springs Police Department and said the inspector’s claims did not prove rape. Strains attorney also alleged that the accuser who jailed changed stories and details throughout the investigation Strain’s wife testifies: Lisa Strain took the stand Wednesday to answer questions regarding the allegations against her husband. Lisa said she met her husband in the early ’80s. He pulled her over and wrote her a ticket when she was 16. She said they didn’t speak for a year before becoming friends and later marrying. The state asked Lisa if she found it odd that at 19 years old, he was friends with a 13-year-old. Lisa answered no, that she didn’t find it strange. The 13-year-old is one of Strain’s accusers. A fourth accuser, who was also described as a family member, recalled emotional and graphic detail of being touched by Strain when he was a child. The accuser alleged that the abuse would happen inside Strain’s home, at a hunting camp, and on a four-wheeler. The accuser said he used to wear two pairs of underwear around Strain. The fourth alleged victim and family member of Jack Strain became so emotional a recess was taken. He screamed in court, “He shouldn’t have did it!”Strain’s attorney grilled the accuser and referenced a phone call where the alleged victim stated he was being blackmailed by the FBI to portray Strain as a pedophile. The alleged victim confirmed the call was real but said, “anybody would be scared by the FBI” and added he wasn’t pressured by the FBI to speak.Family member takes the stand: A third accuser, who was a family member of Strain, took the stand Wednesday. The family member said he was at Strain’s home during his sophomore year of high school. He alleged that he had been drinking when Strain touched him in the middle of the night while he was on his couch. Accuser’s counselor takes the stand: A licensed counselor for one of Strain’s accusers took the stand Tuesday.The counselor said he worked with the victim in July of 2019 while they were incarcerated in the St. Tammany Jail. The counselor said the accuser was one of the worst cases of PTSD that he had ever treated. According to the counselor, the accuser reported having nightmares and would recall in vivid graphic details of his abuse. The same counselor was grilled by Strain’s attorney during cross-examination, who pulled out a social media post where the counselor said the best part of his job was working with law enforcement. The attorney also pointed out that the counselor worked with law enforcement and the district attorney’s office. Accuser becomes emotional on stand: The court on Thursday abruptly went into recess after one of Jack Strain’s accusers had an emotional outburst in court. The accuser screamed in court, “He (Jack Strain) should stand up and admit it — he’s a coward!”The outburst came after the accuser took the stand. The accuser described in graphic detail sexual abuse allegations while he worked for the Strain family’s firework stand. The accuser said in his testimony that he and Strain would stay the night in a camper to protect the stand during fireworks season. As the testimony continued, the accuser became more emotional, saying Strain was “like a brother” and taught him how to drive. After a recess, the accuser took the stand again to continue his testimony.The accuser said as a child, he didn’t tell anyone about the abuse because he didn’t want anyone to know. He said he needed the money from working at the firework stand.“I bought my school clothes with that money,” the alleged victim said.Years later, the alleged victim was married with children when the family business he worked for burned down.Shortly after, Strain was elected as sheriff and offered him a job.The accuser said he took the job because he was “drowning in debt.”He claims the sexual harassment continued for almost 20 years.His wife, two sons, and daughter-in-law also got jobs for the sheriff’s office over the years.One of his sons became involved with the inmate work-release program.His son eventually became 45% owner of the work-release program, but the alleged victim said his son had no owner experience and would funnel money.Between the five family members and the work-release program, the accuser said they made roughly $600,000.The alleged victim reportedly pleaded guilty in federal court and will serve time and pay restitution.Court is set to resume at 1:30.Opening statements: The trial officially began at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27, with powerful opening statements from the state. Those in court heard incredibly graphic details regarding the accusation against Strain. The accusations stretched from the late 1970s to the early 2000s over the course of 25 years. Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims told jurors that the trial would be “exhausting” and “intense.”Sims described Strain as greedy and full of secrets in his opening statement. “He’s a rapist and child molester period,” Sims said.Sims said this all started after Strain decided to privatize a controversial inmate work release program. According to Sims, the FBI got involved in that case and the sex crime allegations surfaced after. Sims said one of Strain’s accusers was first raped in the 1970s in the back of a trailer at a fireworks stand. Sim said the victim alleged that in the ’90s, Strain offered him a job with the sheriff’s office making close to six figures. During his opening statement, Sims also alleged that Strain committed incest against a family member. Graphic detail was shared, including an incident at a hunting camp where Strain was accused of providing pornography to a family member. Strain’s attorney said the accusations brought up by the state were salacious and false.Strain’s attorney said the district attorney was trying to smear Strain and said the case is about manipulation. Strain’s attorney went on to allege that there are four cases against Strain that will “fall apart” and said Strain is not guilty. When court resumed at 1 p.m., a special agent with the IRS took the stand.The agent said in May of 2017, he went to interview one of the alleged victims over the inmate release program.When approached, the victim was “surprised and nervous.”The accuser reportedly worked at the sheriff’s office.The special agent also questioned him about his son’s involvement with the inmate work release program. The accuser revealed that Strain “abused him as a child” and revealed other names as well.Investigators then went to interview another accuser incarcerated in Livingston Parish.When asked about Strain, the special agent said the victim “broke down like a baby,” saying he was raped by Strain. The special agent said he would never forget the raw emotion.In October 2017, a family member of an accuser was interviewed. The agent said the family member was also an employee of the sheriff’s office and worked for the release program.When the accuser was asked if he was ever abused by Strain, the victim said yes and was “shaking, tearing up, and distraught.”Weeks later, another family member of the accuser was interviewed and asked if he was sexually abused by Strain. The accuser said yes. Strain’s attorney then noted that the first victim’s son was one of the owners of the inmate work release program.Court was then dismissed early for the day as a result of the severe weather moving through the state.Jury Selection: The jury selection process started Monday where potential jurors were asked a myriad of questions, some being personal.Some of the questions posed to potential jurors included rating St. Tammany law enforcement on a 1-to-10 scale and questions on whether or not the jurors had been sexually abused.One juror was dismissed for having suffered past sexual abuse.Strain’s attorney attempted to subpoena the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany group, but that effort failed.On the second day of the selection process, Strain walked into court and told WDSU he felt “very good” going into the remainder of the jury selection process.When asked if he is innocent, a man who appeared to be Strain’s lawyer said, “You’ll hear it in court.” The jury is made up of six men and six women. Emotional family:The mother of one of Strain’s accusers was emotional outside of court on Monday.Prosecutors alleged that Strain “raped boys” and detailed the graphic accusations to the jurors. Pat Fin said her child was one of Strain’s alleged sex crime victims. She is expected to testify.Fin spoke with WDSU outside the courtroom, saying, “Jack, I have never in my life hated somebody so much. I didn’t think I had that in me, but to know he did that to my child? What would he have done if someone did that to his child? It is hard. So hard.” Earlier reports: The former sheriff’s legal team has remained largely mum since his 2019 indictment. But WDSU legal analyst Robert Jenkins expects a louder defense this week.”It’s not going to be easy for the prosecution,” Jenkins said. “Not only do you have somebody who has been elected in that parish a long time, you have individuals that might say it’s political, and they may hang that jury up.”Strain’s political heft has already led each St. Tammany Parish judge to recuse themselves from the case, leaving former Lafourche Parish Judge A. Bruce Simpson to preside. Simpson will briefly come out of retirement and cross Lake Pontchartrain for the role — a move both sides agree will be worth it.”By having a judge from the outside coming in, one who hasn’t had exposure to the Strain administration, that should be beneficial to everybody,” King said.Strain’s time in court will not end after the sex crimes trial. On Dec. 6, he will go to a federal court on 16 corruption charges — each tied to an alleged kickback scheme at the work-release program he privatized as sheriff.

Jack Strain, who spent two decades in St. Tammany Parish’s top law enforcement seat, will spend the next two weeks in a different seat: The defendant’s chair.

Strain, 58, went to trial last week amid accusations of abusing multiple juveniles before and during his time as sheriff.

A total of 16 jurors were chosen. This brings the total number of jurors to 12 with two alternates sworn in.

Graphic testimony has been heard for over a week.

District Attorney Warren Montgomery will seek to paint Strain as a lifelong predator. The list of potential witnesses includes 52-year-old Mark Finn, a former Strain family friend who claims Strain began sexually abusing him when he was 6.

“It’s going to be a rather salacious two-week period,” said Terry King, with Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany, the watchdog group that provided much of the evidence that prompted Strain’s arrest in June 2019. “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.”

Strain’s eight counts include the following: four counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest and one count each of indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery.

State, defense rest:

The state and the defense rested in the Strain trial on Friday.

Closing arguments are slated for Monday. The jury will be allowed to go home for the weekend, but were told to bring extra clothes on Monday in case deliberations go long.

Strain did not testify during the trial.

Court will resume on Monday at 9 a.m.

Another family member takes the stand:

A fifth accuser and family member of Strain took the stand and alleged he was raped multiple times.

He detailed the first time it allegedly happened in the late 1970s, saying he was about 9 years old.

On the stand, he said, “He would take my clothes off and tell me just to relax– at the time I didn’t know. Jack was bigger than I was.”

He also alleged that in the 1980s, he and Strain were visiting a relative who was dying in the St. Tammany Parish Hospital. He alleges Strain touched him in the elevator.

Years later, the accuser said he worked at the sheriff’s office as a reserve deputy before Strain was sheriff.

When Strain became sheriff, the accuser said he asked Strain to make him full-time.

He says Strain touched him, so he left.

Around 2019, he alleges Strain’s wife delivered his son. That’s when he told his ex-wife.

He eventually decided to report the alleged abuse to law enforcement around 2019, but no charges were filed in his case.

Sex crime charges were filed for four other accusers who came forward.

Strain says he is innocent and added the allegations are false and do not add up.

U.S. Postal worker testifies:

A United States Postal Service worker took the stand in the Strain trial on Thursday.

The inspector said she focuses on child exploitation in her position.

“What I learned pretty quick: The Strain family is deep-rooted in this community. The family reputation has a lot to lose,” the postal worker said during questioning by the state.

The inspector described all of Strain’s victims as people who were missing father figures.

The inspector said she pulled records from the attics of the Abita Springs Police Department that showed he worked there in 1981 and supported the victim’s timeline of abuse.

One of the accusers said they remembered seeing a police uniform in Strain’s home at the time of their alleged rape.

The inspector said they used a search warrant to find a portrait that another accuser drew of Strain while he was an inmate when Strain was sheriff.

During cross-examination, Strain’s attorney said that it was no secret he worked at the Abita Springs Police Department and said the inspector’s claims did not prove rape.

Strains attorney also alleged that the accuser who jailed changed stories and details throughout the investigation

Strain’s wife testifies:

Lisa Strain took the stand Wednesday to answer questions regarding the allegations against her husband.

Lisa said she met her husband in the early ’80s. He pulled her over and wrote her a ticket when she was 16.

She said they didn’t speak for a year before becoming friends and later marrying.

The state asked Lisa if she found it odd that at 19 years old, he was friends with a 13-year-old.

Lisa answered no, that she didn’t find it strange.

The 13-year-old is one of Strain’s accusers.

A fourth accuser, who was also described as a family member, recalled emotional and graphic detail of being touched by Strain when he was a child.

The accuser alleged that the abuse would happen inside Strain’s home, at a hunting camp, and on a four-wheeler.

The accuser said he used to wear two pairs of underwear around Strain.

The fourth alleged victim and family member of Jack Strain became so emotional a recess was taken.

He screamed in court, “He shouldn’t have did it!”

Strain’s attorney grilled the accuser and referenced a phone call where the alleged victim stated he was being blackmailed by the FBI to portray Strain as a pedophile.

The alleged victim confirmed the call was real but said, “anybody would be scared by the FBI” and added he wasn’t pressured by the FBI to speak.

Family member takes the stand:

A third accuser, who was a family member of Strain, took the stand Wednesday.

The family member said he was at Strain’s home during his sophomore year of high school.

He alleged that he had been drinking when Strain touched him in the middle of the night while he was on his couch.

Accuser’s counselor takes the stand:

A licensed counselor for one of Strain’s accusers took the stand Tuesday.

The counselor said he worked with the victim in July of 2019 while they were incarcerated in the St. Tammany Jail.

The counselor said the accuser was one of the worst cases of PTSD that he had ever treated.

According to the counselor, the accuser reported having nightmares and would recall in vivid graphic details of his abuse.

The same counselor was grilled by Strain’s attorney during cross-examination, who pulled out a social media post where the counselor said the best part of his job was working with law enforcement.

The attorney also pointed out that the counselor worked with law enforcement and the district attorney’s office.

Accuser becomes emotional on stand:

The court on Thursday abruptly went into recess after one of Jack Strain’s accusers had an emotional outburst in court.

The accuser screamed in court, “He (Jack Strain) should stand up and admit it — he’s a coward!”

The outburst came after the accuser took the stand.

The accuser described in graphic detail sexual abuse allegations while he worked for the Strain family’s firework stand.

The accuser said in his testimony that he and Strain would stay the night in a camper to protect the stand during fireworks season.

As the testimony continued, the accuser became more emotional, saying Strain was “like a brother” and taught him how to drive.

After a recess, the accuser took the stand again to continue his testimony.

The accuser said as a child, he didn’t tell anyone about the abuse because he didn’t want anyone to know.

He said he needed the money from working at the firework stand.

“I bought my school clothes with that money,” the alleged victim said.

Years later, the alleged victim was married with children when the family business he worked for burned down.

Shortly after, Strain was elected as sheriff and offered him a job.

The accuser said he took the job because he was “drowning in debt.”

He claims the sexual harassment continued for almost 20 years.

His wife, two sons, and daughter-in-law also got jobs for the sheriff’s office over the years.

One of his sons became involved with the inmate work-release program.

His son eventually became 45% owner of the work-release program, but the alleged victim said his son had no owner experience and would funnel money.

Between the five family members and the work-release program, the accuser said they made roughly $600,000.

The alleged victim reportedly pleaded guilty in federal court and will serve time and pay restitution.

Court is set to resume at 1:30.

Opening statements:

The trial officially began at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27, with powerful opening statements from the state.

Those in court heard incredibly graphic details regarding the accusation against Strain.

The accusations stretched from the late 1970s to the early 2000s over the course of 25 years.

Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims told jurors that the trial would be “exhausting” and “intense.”

Sims described Strain as greedy and full of secrets in his opening statement.

“He’s a rapist and child molester period,” Sims said.

Sims said this all started after Strain decided to privatize a controversial inmate work release program.

According to Sims, the FBI got involved in that case and the sex crime allegations surfaced after.

Sims said one of Strain’s accusers was first raped in the 1970s in the back of a trailer at a fireworks stand.

Sim said the victim alleged that in the ’90s, Strain offered him a job with the sheriff’s office making close to six figures.

During his opening statement, Sims also alleged that Strain committed incest against a family member.

Graphic detail was shared, including an incident at a hunting camp where Strain was accused of providing pornography to a family member.

Strain’s attorney said the accusations brought up by the state were salacious and false.

Strain’s attorney said the district attorney was trying to smear Strain and said the case is about manipulation.

Strain’s attorney went on to allege that there are four cases against Strain that will “fall apart” and said Strain is not guilty.

When court resumed at 1 p.m., a special agent with the IRS took the stand.

The agent said in May of 2017, he went to interview one of the alleged victims over the inmate release program.

When approached, the victim was “surprised and nervous.”

The accuser reportedly worked at the sheriff’s office.

The special agent also questioned him about his son’s involvement with the inmate work release program.

The accuser revealed that Strain “abused him as a child” and revealed other names as well.

Investigators then went to interview another accuser incarcerated in Livingston Parish.

When asked about Strain, the special agent said the victim “broke down like a baby,” saying he was raped by Strain.

The special agent said he would never forget the raw emotion.

In October 2017, a family member of an accuser was interviewed.

The agent said the family member was also an employee of the sheriff’s office and worked for the release program.

When the accuser was asked if he was ever abused by Strain, the victim said yes and was “shaking, tearing up, and distraught.”

Weeks later, another family member of the accuser was interviewed and asked if he was sexually abused by Strain. The accuser said yes.

Strain’s attorney then noted that the first victim’s son was one of the owners of the inmate work release program.

Court was then dismissed early for the day as a result of the severe weather moving through the state.

Jury Selection:

The jury selection process started Monday where potential jurors were asked a myriad of questions, some being personal.

Some of the questions posed to potential jurors included rating St. Tammany law enforcement on a 1-to-10 scale and questions on whether or not the jurors had been sexually abused.

One juror was dismissed for having suffered past sexual abuse.

Strain’s attorney attempted to subpoena the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany group, but that effort failed.

On the second day of the selection process, Strain walked into court and told WDSU he felt “very good” going into the remainder of the jury selection process.

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When asked if he is innocent, a man who appeared to be Strain’s lawyer said, “You’ll hear it in court.”

The jury is made up of six men and six women.

Emotional family:

The mother of one of Strain’s accusers was emotional outside of court on Monday.

Prosecutors alleged that Strain “raped boys” and detailed the graphic accusations to the jurors.

Pat Fin said her child was one of Strain’s alleged sex crime victims. She is expected to testify.

Fin spoke with WDSU outside the courtroom, saying, “Jack, I have never in my life hated somebody so much. I didn’t think I had that in me, but to know he did that to my child? What would he have done if someone did that to his child? It is hard. So hard.”

Earlier reports:

The former sheriff’s legal team has remained largely mum since his 2019 indictment. But WDSU legal analyst Robert Jenkins expects a louder defense this week.

“It’s not going to be easy for the prosecution,” Jenkins said. “Not only do you have somebody who has been elected in that parish a long time, you have individuals that might say it’s political, and they may hang that jury up.”

Strain’s political heft has already led each St. Tammany Parish judge to recuse themselves from the case, leaving former Lafourche Parish Judge A. Bruce Simpson to preside. Simpson will briefly come out of retirement and cross Lake Pontchartrain for the role — a move both sides agree will be worth it.

“By having a judge from the outside coming in, one who hasn’t had exposure to the Strain administration, that should be beneficial to everybody,” King said.

Strain’s time in court will not end after the sex crimes trial. On Dec. 6, he will go to a federal court on 16 corruption charges — each tied to an alleged kickback scheme at the work-release program he privatized as sheriff.

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