Crime

Louisiana sexual assault victim: Attacker getting special treatment in jail because of family

BY SARA PAGONES AND KATIE MOORE

The Advocate and WWL-TV

Josh Hanson
Josh Hanson

Josh Hanson’s underage victim kept silent for nearly six months after he sexually assaulted her in the Abita Springs woods in June 2013. She told an investigator that the 25-year-old man had boasted he would use his family ties to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office against her.

Six of Hanson’s family members, including his parents, Curtis and Cheryl Hanson, work for the Sheriff’s Office. The girl, then a 16-year-old student at Chalmette High School, had been afraid.

Now she’s angry.

Hanson, who was arrested in February 2014, pleaded guilty the following October to molestation of a juvenile, carnal knowledge of a juvenile and failure to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to seven years in state prison.

But so far, Hanson remains in the St. Tammany Parish Jail, where he has a cell block to himself. The arrangement, known as protective isolation, is designed to shield him from inmates who might target him because he’s related to Sheriff’s Office employees.

But his victim believes it amounts to special treatment for a convicted criminal whose father happens to be close to outgoing Sheriff Jack Strain, the official in charge of the jail.

“Jack Strain is Curtis Hanson’s best friend. They grew up together,” she said. “He was never going to go to prison. He was never going to run into rapists, murderers and child molesters just like him ... because his last name is Hanson.”

Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, questioned the wisdom of keeping Hanson in the parish jail after his conviction.

A sheriff can determine, to a large extent, whom he is going to accept into his jail, Goyeneche said. If an inmate poses a security risk, as suggested by the fact that he’s being kept in isolation, why would a sheriff keep that inmate “one day longer than he needs to?” Goyeneche asked.

One of Hanson’s relatives is also a ranking officer in the jail, which Goyeneche said only adds to the potential for special treatment.

“I think there is a potential conflict of interest, and I think it is inappropriate for that inmate to be housed in St. Tammany Parish post-guilty plea, post-conviction,” he said.

Read the full story at The Advocate.

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