ST. TAMMANY PARISH -- Multiple sources close to the case say investigators are looking into allegations former St Tammany Parish Sheriff Rodney “Jack” Strain sexually abused at least four teenagers, some of whom may have been underage.
The revelation comes as federal prosecutors dive deeper into their public corruption case involving the privatized inmate work release program in Slidell. At least two of the victims, the sources say, were employed at the work release.
What began as an investigation into a kickback scheme spawned a sex crimes investigation at least a year ago involving allegations that two employees of the work release program had been sexually abused by Strain, according to sources familiar with the probe.
Investigators have identified at least four people alleging abuse by Strain over a time frame that spans decades.
As the feds turned up the heat on their public corruption investigation, charging documents indicate two of Strain’s best friends, who both held top posts at the St Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, agreed to turn on Strain.
David Hanson Sr. and Clifford “Skip” Keen pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges they solicited bribes and conspired to commit wire fraud with the former sheriff. The bill of information filed against them lays out the scheme in which they funneled profits from the program back to Strain, and it is an indication they plan to plead guilty.
State records show Hanson and Keen's children formed a company called St Tammany Workforce Solutions just a few months before Strain signed a cooperative endeavor agreement with the company to run his Slidell work release program.
The bill of information against Hanson and Keen indicates the group shared more than a million dollars in profits from the program during its three-year tenure.
Questions about the work release programs swirled around Strain during his last re-election bid, in which Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith unseated Strain.
He had been the parish’s top law enforcement officer for two decades.
Some of the sexual abuse allegations involve incidents that would have happened while Strain was sheriff, with others pre-dating his time in elected office.
No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed in the case. If charges are brought about the sexual abuse allegations, those would come from the St Tammany Parish District Attorney’s office, separate and apart from any public corruption charges levied by federal prosecutors.
Strain’s attorney, Billy Gibbens, said he did not want to comment.