COVINGTON, La. (WVUE) - Former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain has been arrested by Louisiana State Police and accused of rape and incest.
District Attorney Warren Montgomery held a minute-long news conference at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday (June 11) to announce the arrest.
Strain, 56, of Abita Springs, was arrested earlier in the morning and taken to the St. Tammany Parish Jail. He was charged in a grand jury indictment with two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest, indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery, according to Montgomery.
Strain’s attorney, Bill Gibbens, has not returned a call for comment.
Strain was being investigated for allegedly sexually abusing minors while he was in office.
According to prosecutors, Strain is accused of committing aggravated rape on one victim between June 1, 1979 and July 19, 1980, and another victim between Jan. 1, 1975 and Sept. 8, 1981. Both of the victims were under the age of 12, according to the indictment.
The dates mean the first alleged rape happened when Strain was 12. He was born on Nov. 28, 1962.
He is also accused of committing aggravated incest on the third victim and committing indecent behavior with the same victim between April 1, 1996, and July 1, 2002. The victims were under the age of 17.
Strain is also accused of committing aggravated incest and sexual battery on a fourth victim around June 1, 2004.
A state police investigation was turned over to the district attorney’s office in January.
“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,” Montgomery said. “Over the following 18 months, we conducted a joint investigation.”
A grand jury returned an indictment Tuesday morning.
If convicted of the crimes, Strain faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany, a watchdog group, has alleged some of the allegations go back 20 or 30 years.
“The information I learned throughout the investigation was deeply disturbing especially because of the severity of the alleged crimes,” said current St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith.
He called the allegations “disgraceful and shocking.”
“Today’s indictment of the former sheriff should illustrate St. Tammany’s disdain for corruption or criminal actions of all kinds,” Smith said.
The allegations stem from another federal investigation that involved two of Strain’s top aides in a kickback scheme related to a work release program.
Clifford Keen and David Hanson Sr. pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and soliciting a bribe. Their sentencing is set for Sept. 4.
Strain served as sheriff of St. Tammany Parish for nearly 20 years until 2016.
He is being held on a $400,000 bond.