COVINGTON, La. — Monday morning in Covington jury selection will begin in the trial of former long-time St.Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain.
The 58-year-old was sheriff for 20 years until 2015 when he was indicted in 2019 on 8 counts of sex crimes involving juveniles.
A jury will decide if he’s guilty of 4 counts of aggravated rape, 2 counts of aggravated incest, 1 count of indecent behavior with a juvenile, and one count of sexual battery.
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.
Attorney and Former Public Defender Kenn Barnes offered legal insight into what should be expected from such a high-profile case.
"Currently with trials you would expect to see a lot of evidence from text messages to video cameras. These accusations happened many years ago so you may not see that as much as far as technological evidence but there should be a number of witnesses coming forth," said Attorney Kenn Barnes.
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.
"These are two totally separate instances you're dealing with rape and a financial crime," said Attorney Barnes.
But first, in the state trial, jury selection starts Monday, a process that could take a full day.
"Jury selection is an art form. A serious prosecutor and defense attorney will take as much time as they can," said Attorney Barnes.
Jury selection will be followed by opening statements then a number of testimonies from both sides that will last days.