COVINGTON, La. — In shackles and a striped jumpsuit, Jack Strain’s second accuser took the witness stand Friday.
While his mother watched, 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.
“Mom, I’m sorry you’ve got to hear this,” Finn said.
Finn, a self-described career criminal, broke his silence about Strain’s alleged abuse in an exclusive interview with WWL-TV and The New Orleans Advocate in 2019. Finn will be the only one of Strain’s accusers WWL-TV will identify.
Referring to Strain as “monster and a predator,” Finn recalled what he described as the most “degrading” and “shameful” moments in his life.
Strain began as a caretaker and father figure for Mark Finn. The 6-year-old boy from Abita Springs came from a poor family and had a strained relationship with his own father. He’d spend time at the Strain family home, where 13-year-old Jack Strain taught him how to milk a cow, took him fishing and let him ride three-wheelers. On that same farm, Finn says Strain raped him.
Strain’s defense attorney Billy Gibbens, questioned Finn’s motives for the accusations, suggesting that Finn stood to make a lot of money in a separate civil suit if Strain was found guilty and that he’d even tried to negotiate a shorter jail sentence in exchange for his cooperation.
The abuse started in the pond where they’d go swimming, according to Finn. He said Strain would go under water and perform oral sex on the then 6-year-old Finn. Sometimes, Finn says Strain would pull down his shorts and rub up against Finn’s buttocks.
“He was trying to get in me – push it in me – but it didn’t fit,” Finn said, choking back tears.
Over the course of the next six years, Finn says Strain’s sexual abuse got worse and worse. At one point, he said Strain forced him to perform oral sex on him, grabbing his head and making him gag. He also claimed Strain made him perform oral sex on him while Finn would milk cows.
“He’d think it was funny,” Finn said, staring down Strain in the courtroom. “I’ll never forget how he laughs.”
Finn said the sexual abuse would turn even more violent when the two boys would go back to Strain’s bedroom. It was there that Finn said Strain began anally raping him.
“I didn’t even know what sex was,” Finn said. “I didn’t know what was going on. It hurt me.”
It was another reason why he never told anyone about the abuse until recently.
“Cause I’m not gay,” Finn said. “It makes me sick to say I had someone take my penis and put it inside of him. It’s degrading … you put a scar on me.”
Finn testified that the abuse came to a sudden end when he was a young teenager, around 12 or 13-years-old.
While staring at a picture of himself as a young boy, projected onto the wall of the courtroom for the jury to see, Finn testified that Strain would force him facedown on the bed, cover his buttocks in baby oil and try to penetrate him. Finn said he’d have to cover his mouth to muffle the screams.
When he’d go home, Finn said he would bleed into his bath water. He said he’d turn on the faucet so that his family wouldn’t hear him cry as he cleaned the blood stains from his underwear.
Finn was emotional during his testimony, sobbing heavily and stopping to do breathing exercises to calm himself, but it wasn’t until cross-examination from Gibbens that he completely lost his cool. Gibbens asked why his accusations against his client had changed, showing earlier interviews where he claimed Strain never penetrated him – a direct contradiction to what he said in court Friday.
“You’re a man, aren’t you?” Finn said, rising from his seat. “Imagine how you’d feel as a young man having your virginity taken by a man when it’s supposed to be taken by a woman.”
In contrast, Jack Strain watched silently without expression, occasionally taking notes. His son sat behind him, as he has every day of the trial.
Gibbens asked Finn about claims he’d made about drones following him around while he’s out of prison and watching him at his home, in what seemed to be an attempt to get the jury to question his mental stability. Finn said he still sees drones following him.
The defense also questioned Finn about letters he sent to a federal agent where he asked her about a potential civil suit and if she could help him get into a re-entry program. Gibbens suggested that Finn was making up these stories about Strain for money and reduced jail time.
Assistant District Attorney addressed the letters during his redirect, noting that Finn asked for help, but never said he wouldn’t cooperate with investigators. He also mentioned that Finn is currently facing a life sentence, making any money he’d receive in a civil suit useless if he’s found guilty. That case is being pursued by another state’s DA’s officer to avoid any conflicts, Sims said.
The trial is set to resume on Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 9 a.m.
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