COVINGTON, La. — The sex crimes trial against former long-time St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain continues Thursday with more witnesses called by the state against Strain.
The trial's first weeks of testimony were incredibly graphic, with four accusers, including two of Strain's relatives, giving sometimes detailed accounts of the sexual abuse they claim Strain inflicted on them.
Prosecutors say they plan to bring more than 30 witnesses to the stand over the course of the trial. Testimony is expected to last for at least another 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.
Here's the latest from the trial, where witness testimony is at the heart of the accusations against Strain:
Another tearful accuser
Jack Strain’s fifth accuser, the only one not included in the charges against him, testified Thursday.
The fifth accuser, a family member just four years younger than Strain, came forward after hearing Mark Finn accuse Strain of rape on WWLTV.
The relative said that Jack anally raped him multiple times when he was a young boy, between 9 and 11-years-old.
“I tried to get him off (of me). I didn’t want it because I knew it was wrong,” he said, wiping away tears.
What evidence has value?
How do you determine what evidence has value in the Jack Strain sex crimes trial?
That’s what attorneys questioned Agent Allyson Hoffine, with the US Postal Service’s criminal division, about on the eighth day of the trial.
As one of the main investigators into the accusations against Strain, Hoffine collected evidence over the course of three years to corroborate alleged victims’ statements. She said one of the biggest challenges working with “historic victims,” is nailing down dates and specific details.
Hoffine collected documents, photos, phone calls, and text conversations that supported Strain’s four accusers’ testimony. They back up their claims about when the alleged abuse happened, where it happened, and who may have been there. They do not, however, explicitly confirm the abuse happened at all. Strain’s defense attorneys made this clear during cross-examination.
Attorney Billy Gibbens also pointed out that Agent Hoffine didn’t pull all the text and phone records she could have. Hoffine responded that she only pulled what she thought was relevant to the case and that some of the records Gibbens asked her about do not exist at all.
Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims supported Hoffine’s work, pulling out the massive amounts of evidence she collected during her three-year investigation.
Postal Service investigator who looked into Strain's dealings testifies
Prosecutors called Allyson Hoffine, an investigator with the US Postal Service, to the stand as their first witness of the day.
Hoffine performed dozens of interviews in the investigation into Strain’s alleged sex crimes, including interviewing all accusers multiple times. She said a major part of her job is corroborating the information people give her to see if they’re trustworthy or not and if they’re accusations can be believed.
Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims presented her with records, photos and text message conversations all previously submitted as evidence in the case. Hoffine explained why those documents are so important to deciding if an accuser should be trusted or not and if charges will be filed against their alleged abuser.
Defense attorneys questioned how important that corroboration is, especially since it’s not explicit proof of sexual assault.