On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
81°
Mostly Clear
H 81° L 75°
  • cloudy-day
    81°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Clear. H 81° L 75°
  • clear-night
    76°
    Morning
    Mostly Clear. H 81° L 75°
  • cloudy-day
    83°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 86° L 75°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National
Former longtime Louisiana sheriff charged with rape, incest
Close

Former longtime Louisiana sheriff charged with rape, incest

Ex-Louisiana Sheriff Charged with Rape, Incest

Former longtime Louisiana sheriff charged with rape, incest

A former longtime Louisiana sheriff has been charged with multiple sex crimes, including rape and incest, authorities said. 

Rodney Jack Strain Jr., 56, of Abita Springs, is charged with two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated incest, indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery, according to St. Tammany Parish Jail records. He is being held in lieu of $2.4 million bond. 

>> Read more trending news

Strain is in the same jail he once presided over as St. Tammany Parish sheriff. Warren Montgomery, district attorney for Louisiana’s 22nd Judicial District, said Strain faces life in prison on the aggravated rape charges.  

Montgomery said during a news conference Tuesday that Strain, who NOLA.com reported served as St. Tammany sheriff for 20 years, had been under investigation for 18 months after investigators with the Louisiana State Police, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service presented his office with evidence of the alleged sex crimes. 

NOLA.com reported the allegations surfaced during a separate investigation in which FBI agents were looking into an inmate work release contract Strain awarded in 2013. The company that was awarded the contract was in the names of the children of two of Strain’s deputies, the news site said

Both former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office captains pleaded guilty for their part in the business scheme in February. 

Meanwhile, the sex abuse investigation of Strain continued. 

“Over the following months, we conducted a joint investigation, brought in the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and used the grand jury to confirm and corroborate the allegations,” Montgomery said. “The results of that investigation were presented to the grand jury, which returned an indictment this morning.”

Watch District Attorney Warren Montgomery's news conference below. 

Strain is accused of abusing a total of four victims, Montgomery’s staff said in a news release. He is accused of committing aggravated rape on one victim between June 1979 and July 1980, and a second victim between January 1975 and September 1981. 

The third and fourth alleged victims were relatives of his. He is accused of aggravated incest against both victims, one between 1996 and 2002. Strain is also accused of indecent behavior with the third victim, the news release said

The fourth victim, who was reportedly abused in 2004, was also a victim of sexual battery, according to Montgomery’s office

Strain’s indictment, which was obtained by NOLA.com, indicates two of the four victims were under the age of 12 when the abuse took place. Strain himself would have been 12 years old in 1975, when the time frame for one of the alleged crimes began, the news site pointed out

“I have a duty to pursue justice when a crime has been committed,” Montgomery said during Tuesday’s news conference. “The grand jury also has a duty, and when presented with evidence (of sexual misconduct by Mr. Strain) that made a determination of probable cause evident to them, they returned an indictment in this matter. 

“Mr. Strain deserves a speedy and fair trial by an impartial jury, and for that reason, I will have no further comment or answer any questions.”

Strain, who started his law enforcement career with the Abita Springs Police Department, was first elected sheriff in St. Tammany Parish in 1996, NOLA.com said. He remained in office through 2014 before being defeated by current Sheriff Randy Smith. 

Smith issued a statement Tuesday, in which he said the allegations against Strain are “disgraceful and shocking,” NOLA.com reported

Residents of tiny Abita Springs also expressed shock in December, when the allegations against their one-time police chief first surfaced publicly. 

“We never saw him as that person,” resident Evette Randolph told the news site. “He was always a well-mannered guy to be around. From growing up around him, it just doesn’t sound like the guy we knew then.”

Aside from the mandatory life sentence if convicted of the aggravated rape charges, Strain faces up to 20 years for each aggravated incest charge, up to 10 years on the sexual battery charge and up to seven years on the indecent behavior charge, according to Montgomery’s office

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • A communication between President Donald Trump and an unnamed foreign leader sparked a recent whistleblower complaint from a U.S. intelligence official, multiple news outlets are reporting. >> Read more trending news  According to the Washington Post, the president made a 'promise' to the leader that worried the official, who then filed the complaint Aug. 12, two anonymous former U.S. officials told the newspaper. NBC News and CNN, each citing an unnamed source familiar with the incident, also reported that the complaint involved an interaction between Trump and a foreign leader, but the two outlets did not independently confirm news that Trump had promised the leader anything.  Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 19:  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee suggested Thursday that lawmakers could ask a judge to compel White House officials to share with Congress a whistleblower complaint allegedly filed last month against Trump. The complaint was filed Aug. 12 and involved an undisclosed 'promise' made by the president to an unidentified foreign leader, CNN reported Atkinson declined to share details of the complaint during a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, citing a lack of authorization. 'We do know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress,' Schiff told reporters Thursday. 'We do not know -- because we cannot get an answer to the question -- about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.' He said lawmakers had yet to see the complaint by Thursday afternoon. 'We do not know whether press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of the complaint,' he said. Earlier Thursday, the president denied having done anything inappropriate. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: Trump on Thursday denied any wrongdoing after reports claimed a whistleblower had come forward with a complaint about the president making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader. 'Another Fake News story out there - it never ends!' Trump wrote Thursday in a tweet. 'Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. 'Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!' Original report: The promise occurred during a phone conversation with the leader, one source told the Post. Details about the alleged pledge and the leader's identity was not immediately available. Although Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, believed that the whistleblower complaint warranted 'urgent concern,' acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire so far has declined to provide information about the communication to the House Intelligence Committee, the Post reported. A closed hearing with Atkinson is slated for Thursday, the committee said. Maguire is expected to testify publicly Sept. 26, according to the committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Read more here.
  • An Alabama man shot and killed a plumber working at his home over the weekend and told authorities he had no memory of committing the crime. Orva Kyle McDonald Jr., 61, of Gadsden, was charged Saturday with murder in the death of Douglas Dewayne Sparks, 49, of Anniston, Etowah County Sheriff’s Office records show. According to WBRC in Birmingham, McDonald is being held in lieu of $1 million bond. >> Read more trending news  A judge ordered that McDonald be subjected to a psychological evaluation before being released on bond, the news station reported. AL.com reported that Etowah County sheriff’s deputies were called to McDonald’s home around 7:20 p.m. Saturday for reports of a shooting. They found Sparks lying dead in the side yard. McDonald and his wife were the only people at the home with Sparks at the time of the killing. Sparks’ coworkers at First Action Plumbing Services in Anniston addressed his death Sunday on Facebook. “All of us at First Action Plumbing are saddened and shocked at the untimely, unfortunate and senseless death of our employee, co-worker and friend Doug Sparks,” the statement read. “The details of what took place last night are still very unclear. Please join us in support and prayer for his wife, children, family and friends.” Sparks’ widow, Diana Sparks, wrote on social media that he was and always will be the love of her life. “He had a big heart and loved everyone, especially his family,” she wrote. “I love you always and forever.” Diana Sparks shared a private message her husband sent her on their January anniversary, in which he thanked her for a wonderful life together and said she would always be his greatest love. “I love you so much, hope you have a great anniversary,” Doug Sparks wrote. “In my eyes, you will always be the best wife ever.” He ended the note by saying she made him the “happiest person in the world.” Sparks is survived by his wife, five children, his parents, a brother, and several grandchildren, according to his obituary. “He was a loving husband, father, brother, uncle and friend that would do anything for his family and friends and will be greatly missed,” the obituary read. Detectives learned that the McDonalds had hired Sparks to repair a clogged sink a week before the shooting, AL.com said. McDonald, who did not know Sparks prior to that job, then hired him to replace the plumbing at the house, authorities said. Sparks had been working on that job most of the day Saturday and the McDonalds even fed the man, Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton said. “Shortly after arriving home, which was just, you know, within an hour of the incident occurring, (McDonald) had fixed the gentleman a sandwich,” Horton told WBRC. “And he appears to have been eating that sandwich at the time of the shooting.” McDonald, who has no criminal record, told investigators he does not remember the shooting or what may have preceded it, Horton told AL.com. McDonald’s wife was on the front porch of the home when she heard gunshots. She did not see the killing, the news site reported. “It’s a mystery,” Horton said. Investigators have seized home surveillance footage, hoping it will shed light on what took place. McDonald remained jailed Thursday morning.
  • One person has serious injuries after being hit by a vehicle in the Springfield area this morning.  Action News Jax Reporter Beth Rousseau was told by police that a child being chased by a dog was hit by the vehicle near N. Davis and W. 13th Street, not far from UF Health Jacksonville.  The child is expected to recover from injuries.  Refresh this story for new information throughout the day. 
  • The Osceola County Sheriff's Office in Florida began an investigation at Horizon Middle School involving students who reportedly created a list of who would be 'safe' during an unknown event. >> Read more trending news  Investigators discovered two students had a conversation about carrying out school violence, possibly a shooting at the school, according to deputies. Officials said the list was created with names of students on a 'safe' list and names of students on a 'stab' list. There was also talk about sneaking a gun into the school and shooting students as well as stabbing them, according to deputies. Deputies said both students admitted to discussing and creating the list but added that they were just joking. A third student who was present during the conversation provided the information to detectives. The two students who admitted to creating the list were charged with making written threats to kill or conduct a mass shooting. According to officials, the students were transported and booked into the Juvenile Detention Center.  Anyone with has information regarding this case or a similar situation is urged to contact the Sheriff's Office at 407-348-2222 or Crimeline at 800-423-8477, where information leading to an arrest may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
  • Local law enforcement is searching for two people believed to be involved in multiple vehicle thefts and at least 24 car burglaries in Northeast Florida. The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office says two suspects were arrested on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon.  Deputies attempted to pull over a Dodge Journey in the Vilano area Tuesday evening. It was quickly discovered this vehicle was reported stolen out of Clay County.  Deputies said the driver refused to pull over and drove across the Vilano Bridge.  Stop sticks forced the vehicle to come to a stop. Deputies said four people jumped out of the SUV and ran. They witnessed one of the occupants throwing a handgun off of the bridge.  Several other firearms were found in the vehicle. One suspect was arrested near the stolen SUV, 18-year-old Aneudy Gutierrez. He was initially held on loitering charges.  On Wednesday afternoon, deputies arrested a second suspect, 18-year-old Josiah Martinez. Both are now charged with 24 counts of armed burglary to a conveyance and two counts of firearm theft.  Within 12 hours of their arrest, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said dispatch received several calls of car burglaries in the Southeast district.  Investigators linked two stolen firearms found in the stolen SUV to this neighborhood.  'I'm pretty surprised,' St. Johns County resident Devona Coch said. 'I guess I'm going to start locking it up a little bit more often.'  Deputies believe the remaining two suspects stole a 2004 Ford Excursion to flee town.  They said the Excursion was last spotted in Duval County.  They are asking the community to remove any valuables from their vehicles, especially firearms.   'Just take extra precaution and lock up,' Coch said. 'Don't trust that it's a good neighborhood because you never know when it's going to happen or where it's going to happen.

The Latest News Videos