Longtime Louisiana sheriff faces life in prison for sexual abuse of boys. Victims say acts that shattered childhoods still haunt them.

Published 2:20 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

A former sheriff is facing life in a Louisiana state prison for sexually abusing boys, and still awaits trial on federal corruption charges related to his two decades as the top lawman in St. Tammany Parish.

Former St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain was convicted Monday on four counts of aggravated rape involving juvenile victims, which carries a mandatory life sentence, New Orleans-area news outlets reported. The allegations included crimes that took place before and during his time as sheriff, a job he held for five terms before losing reelection in 2015.

Strain, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges in a 16-count federal indictment accusing him of using his authority as sheriff to try to steer profits from a $1 million work-release contract to himself, his family and friends.

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A co-defendant who pleaded guilty in the federal case became a witness in the state case, testifying that he had been molested by Strain as a child. That victim said that, as an adult, he had gone to work for Strain at the sheriff’s office when he was deeply in debt. The man said Strain pressured him to join the work-release scheme.

The jury heard testimony from five men who said Strain shattered their childhoods with acts that still haunt them. One said the abuse contributed to a substance abuse problem.

A counselor for one victim testified that the man had developed PTSD and had nightmares about the abuse.

Another accuser was a family member of Strain who said he was molested while he was a sophomore in high school.

“The evidence was compelling, overwhelming and convincing,” District Attorney Warren Montgomery said during a news conference after the verdict.