Jack Strain pleads not guilty to sex crime charges including rape

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ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — Former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Rodney “Jack” Strain pleaded not guilty for various sex crime charges including aggravated rape.

Strain entered his plea Thursday before ad hoc Judge Edward “Jimmy” Gaidry at the parish courthouse in Covington. He faces state charges that he raped underage boys and committed acts of incest — allegations dating back to the 1970s.

Louisiana State Police arrested the former sheriff on two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest, one count of indecent behavior with a juvenile and a count of sexual battery after a grand jury indicted him in June.

Gaidry, a retired appellate court judge, was appointed to hear the case when the entire 22nd Judicial District Court bench recused itself.

A grand jury later handed down a superseding indictment against him, adding two additional counts of aggravated rape.

St. Tammany District Attorney Warren Montgomery said that, if convicted, Strain would face a mandatory life sentence.

Outside the court, Strain’s attorney, Billy Gibbens, made a brief statement: “Jack pleaded not guilty today. He is not guilty.”

Strain’s arrest came after a years-long investigation into his business dealings while sheriff, involving a St. Tammany work release program, that eventually unearthed the allegations of sex crimes.

According to the indictment, the sex crimes charges against Strain stem from the sexual abuse of four alleged victims from 1975 to 2004, when Strain was St. Tammany sheriff. All four victims were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crimes. Two of the victims were under the age of 12.

There is no statute of limitations for aggravated rape.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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