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Watchdogs call for Strain accuser to be freed from prison

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 4:12 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A career criminal was one of the main witnesses to testify about sexual abuse at the hands of former St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain. Now, a Northshore watchdog group is asking the Attorney General to approve a deal that could allow Mark Finn to go free.

More than two years before Strain stood trial, the lifelong former friend told FOX 8 about a lifetime of abuse.

“Jack Strain is a sick individual. I’m going to go all the way with what he did to me as a kid. I want the world to know we don’t need this individual on the street,” Finn said in February of 2019.

Since that interview, Finn was arrested on drug distribution charges and is now awaiting trial. He wore a prison uniform and shackles when he testified against Strain late last year about sexual abuse, which began when he was six years old and tormented him his entire life.

More: Former St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain gets 4 life sentences in rape, incest case

“When he was home, he was talking in his sleep and he would wake up screaming and I would ask him what’s the matter and he would say mama I’m fighting Jack off of me,” said Finn’s mother, Patricia.

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Finn’s emotional testimony was seen as a crucial factor in the conviction of the former five-term sheriff. Now the group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany is asking the state attorney general’s office to show leniency when Finn goes to trial next month.

“We want the Attorney General’s office to provide Mark the help he needs through mental health and addiction services. Let him out of prison because we believe the root causes of what he has gone through, and self-medication was caused by the behavior that Jack Strain exhibited on him,” said Terry King, with Concerned Citizens of St Tammany.

After Finn spent most of his adult life in jail, his mother is hoping that the Attorney General’s office grants a misdemeanor plea that will allow him to go free. Regardless, she says her son will need a lot of therapy.

“I’m hoping and praying they release my son because my health is going down fast,” said Patricia Finn.

Aside from the sexual abuse, Finn’s attorney says he suffered mentally for years as an inmate in the St. Tammany jail while Strain was the parish’s top law enforcement official.

“The criminal justice system let him down and he should have the opportunity to get his life back together now that the trial is over with,” said Finn’s attorney Tony Lemon.

Finn’s mother now awaits the attorney general’s decision. And she’s hoping to be there to help him out in spite of her own ill health.

The Attorney General’s office says it will not comment on the request, since it involves an ongoing prosecution.

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