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'Mom, I'm sorry you've got to hear this' | Second Strain accuser gives graphic testimony

WWL-TV reporters Erika Ferrando and Sam Winstrom are at the Covington Courthouse and will provide updates throughout the day on the latest proceedings of the trial.

COVINGTON, La. — Testimony in the sex crimes trial against former long-time St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain will continue Friday. 

Friday's testimony wraps up the first week of testimony. Prosecutors say they plan to bring more than 30 witnesses to the stand over the course of the trial. Testimony will continue Tuesday and into next week.

WWL-TV reporters Erika Ferrando and Sam Winstrom are at the Covington Courthouse and will provide updates throughout the day on the latest proceedings of the trial. 

Ed. Note: WWL-TV is not naming sexual abuse victims testifying in this case due to the nature of the alleged crimes. 

Live Updates:

Defense tries to sow doubt about second accuser's testimony

The defense finished their cross-examination of the second Jack Strain accuser to testify, Mark Finn.

Defense Attorney Billy Gibbens referenced a recorded forensic interview Finn did near the beginning of the investigation into Strain, as well as letter he wrote to a federal agent, to try and convince the jury that Finn made up the accusations for money and freedom.

In the recorded interview, Finn said several times that Strain never penetrated him anally or put his penis in his mouth. During his initial testimony, Finn said he was ashamed of what happened and didn’t tell anyone earlier because he thought having sex with a man would ruin his reputation.

The letters Gibbens submitted as evidence feature Finn asking about the time limit for a civil suit and if it’s still possible. They also ask for help getting into a re-entry program. Finn argued that he asked for help, but that help had nothing to do with his cooperation in the state’s investigation.

Assistant District attorney Collin Sims made the point during redirect that Finn is currently facing life in prison, making any money he stands to earn useless. His case is being handled by another state’s district attorney’s office, making it impossible for Louisiana to interfere with his sentencing.

Second Strain accuser gives graphic testimony

 In shackles and a striped jumpsuit, Jack Strain’s second accuser took the witness stand Friday.

Mark Finn gave the most graphic testimony yet in the Strain sex crimes trial, describing years of alleged molestation and rape by the former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff starting when he was just 6-years-old.

His mother was in the courtroom, wiping away tears as her son testified that Strain molested and anally raped him several times as a child.

“Mom, I’m sorry you’ve got to hear this,” Finn said.

Finn is the only one of Strain’s accusers WWL-TV will identify because he has previously gone on the record with Eyewitness News with his accusations.

Finn’s testimony started similarly to the first alleged victim to take the stand. He was a young boy from a poor family who would frequently go to the Strain family home. Finn said his father and older brother would go work with the cattle, leaving him alone with Jack, who was about seven years older than him.

“I always used to look forward to going over there,” Finn said. “They had a lot of stuff we didn’t have coming up.”

Finn said the abuse started in a pond on the Strain family farm that the boys would go swimming in. He claims that Strain would molest him under the water, sometimes going under himself to put the then 6-year-old boy’s penis in his mouth. Eventually, he said it escalated to strain pushing his erect penis against his anus.

Finn said that as a 6-year-old boy, he didn’t understand what was happening. Strain, who he says was four or five times his size, would threaten him into silence.

“You’d better not go back and say anything,” Finn remembered Strain telling him.

Finn and his family would continue to go to the Strain family farm for years. He said the abuse didn’t happen every day. They’d ride on three wheelers, feed and care for the cows and fish.

“That’s what’s sad,” Finn said. “I still had a good time with him.”

The defense is set to cross examine Mark Finn after the court recesses for lunch. The trial is set to resume at 1:30 p.m.

'He had to deal with monsters his whole life'

9:55 AM: The fifth day of the sex crimes trial against Jack Strain began with the testimony of the adult son of one of Strain's accusers. 

The state questioned the witness, reinforcing the timeline that Strain's accuser who testified Wednesday told his family about the abuse in 2013.

The accuser's son also spoke about his strained relationship with his father growing up.

"He had to deal with the monsters his whole life," he said. "It didn't make sense at the time. It makes a whole lot of sense now."

Case Background:

Strain faces 4 counts of aggravated rape, 2 counts of aggravated incest, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and sexual battery.

The allegations against the former sheriff were unearthed during an investigation into a work-release program under his direction during his time as sheriff.

Strain pleaded not guilty to the alleged incidents that happened as far back as 1975 when Strain was a teenager. The most recent allegations are from the early 2000s when Strain was serving as sheriff.

Strain has been free on bond since his arrest in June 2019 and now faces life in prison if convicted.

The trial will take place at the 22nd Judicial Courthouse in Covington under retired Lafourche Parish Judge Bruce Simpson. Every other Northshore judge was recused from the case.

The state trial is expected to last up to two weeks but Strain’s time in court won’t be over.

After this trial, he’s set to face trial in federal court this December for charges related to an alleged kickback scheme at a work release program during his time as sheriff.

   

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