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Former Sheriff Jack Strain indicted on rape, incest charges

Former Sheriff Jack Strain indicted on rape, incest charges

Author: Action News 17/Tuesday, June 11, 2019/Categories: Front Page, Crime

From District Attorney Warren Montgomery:
COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced in a press conference that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Rodney Jack Strain, Jr., 56, of Abita Springs, Tuesday (June 11) on two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and sexual battery.



Strain is accused of committing the crime of aggravated rape on one victim between June 1, 1979, and July 19, 1980, and another victim between January 1, 1975, and September 8, 1981. Strain also is accused of committing aggravated incest on a third victim and committing indecent behavior with the same victim, all between April 1, 1996, and July 1, 2002. In addition, Strain is accused of committing aggravated incest and sexual battery on a fourth victim on or about June 1, 2004.

Montgomery made the following statement: “In the Fall of 2017, the Louisiana State Police, FBI, and IRS presented me with evidence that former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain had engaged in sex crimes. Over the following 18 months, we conducted a joint investigation, brought in the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and used the grand jury to confirm and corroborate the allegations. The results of that investigation were presented to the grand jury, which returned an indictment this morning. If found guilty of the charges, Mr. Strain will be sentenced to a mandatory term of life in prison. He has been arrested and taken to the St. Tammany Parish jail.

“I have a duty to pursue justice when a crime has been committed. The grand jury was presented evidence of sexual misconduct by Mr. Strain and made the determination that probable cause exists that Strain committed the violations as returned by the grand jury. Mr. Strain deserves a speedy trial by an impartial jury, and I will make sure he is given a fair trial.”

Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims presented the case to the grand jury and will handle the prosecution with Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Authement.

The statutory penalties are as follows:

Aggravated Rape – Life
Aggravated Incest – With or without hard labor not less than 5 years, not more than 20 years
Indecent Behavior With A Juvenile – With or without hard labor not more than 7 years
Sexual Battery – With or without hard labor not more than 10 years

Strain is being held in the St. Tammany Parish Jail. Bond is set at $400,000.

Current Sheriff Randy Smith offered the following statement on the arrest of Jack Strain:

“Since first taking office, I have been actively involved in seeking justice for the atrocities alleged by victims on this parish’s former sheriff. The information I learned throughout the investigation was deeply disturbing especially because of the severity of the alleged crimes. Not only did we assist in the criminal investigation of the former sheriff, but I was also duty-bound to determine if any of the sheriff’s associates or colleagues were complicit or aware of any of the information that we learned upon investigating. The revelations led me to make several changes in the upper ranks of the Sheriff’s Office. There is no room for a good ole’ boys’ network in law enforcement, especially one that may be willing to put friendship over law. The actions alleged against the former sheriff are disgraceful and shocking. Today’s indictment of the former sheriff should illustrate St. Tammany’s disdain for corruption or criminal actions of all kinds. I would like to commend the State Police and District Attorney Warren Montgomery’s office for their thorough investigation. In the coming days, I am sure more facts will come to light to further explain Jack Strain’s behavior and the depth of the corruption within Jack Strain’s administration. I can assure the citizens of this Parish that not only have we rebuilt this agency as a no-nonsense law enforcement division that takes its role in our community seriously, but today’s news only further motivates us to continue reinforcing our mission to protect and serve with the highest integrity.”

Smith's opponent, former Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz, offered the following statement on the Strain arrest:

"The law enforcement community has been shocked by emerging allegations of criminal conduct by former Sheriff Jack Strain - including, especially, the sex crimes against children for which he was arrested this morning.

"When I became a deputy sheriff in 1983, I took an oath to the law and to the people of St. Tammany Parish - and not to any one man. I left the agency in 2013, proud of my work and career - as a patrol deputy, detective, head of the Narcotics Unit, Chief Detective and, finally, Chief Deputy. I remain proud of that work.

"The current sheriff issued a statement today in which he said the allegations of criminal sexual conduct led him to investigate which of Strain's former associates may have had knowledge of such actions. He said there's no more place for 'good ole boys' who will cover-up misconduct. The thinly veiled implication that I or anyone who worked under Strain had knowledge of such criminal behavior is patently offensive and absurd. Had I known of any criminal wrongdoing by the former sheriff, I'd have taken appropriate action to see crimes stopped and wrongdoers prosecuted - as I have done my entire career. I'm confident in saying that any of my associates or subordinates would have done the same, and that includes the current sheriff.

"It is appropriate for me and for all of us to let the district attorney and the good people of our justice system to do their jobs without interference or running commentary - including public statements to the press or on social media that might taint a jury pool and endanger a case.

"I'm as shocked and horrified by these allegations as anyone, and I hope the system works swiftly on this case."

As of 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, Strain remains housed at the STPSO Jail.
 
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