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Woman Loses Custody Of Daughter And Now Has To Pay Child Support To Her Alleged Rapist

Woman Loses Custody Of Daughter And Now Has To Pay Child Support To Her Alleged Rapist
WBRZ/YouTube

A rape victim in Louisiana has been ordered by a judge to pay child support to her alleged abuser after she lost custody of their daughter.

Crysta Abelseth was 16 when she said she met John Barnes, who was then 30, at a bar in the City of Hammond in 2005. Barnes allegedly offered her a ride then raped her.

Abelseth is now the 32-year-old mother to a 16-year-old daughter who was born from what is legally statutory rape and alleged to be a nonconsensual sexual assault.

In an interview with WBRZ, the victim recalled the harrowing incident from 17 years ago when Barnes–whom she just met–offered to give her a ride home after her friend decided to leave the bar early.

“Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house," she said, adding, "Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch."

She wound up becoming pregnant from that night.

"Everyone assumed it [the pregnancy] was from a boyfriend, and I let them believe that," said Abelseth.

She wound up having a healthy baby girl–whose name has been withheld since she is currently a minor.

Everything was fine until Barnes learned sometime in 2011 that he might have a daughter.

Abelseth continued:

"When my daughter was five years old, he found out about her, and once he found out about her, he pursued custody and wanted to take her away from me."
"They granted him 50/50 custody despite the fact that [the child] was caused by rape."

You can watch the news report, here.

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A DNA test presented in the court document proved with 99.97% accuracy Barnes is the father.

His alleged sexual assault on the 16-year-old Abelseth was considered illegal even if it was consensual–which Abelseth maintained that it was not.

In the state of Louisiana, the legal age of consent to sexual intercourse is 17.

In July 2015, Ableseth said she pressed criminal charges against Barnes after learning she was still able to report the incident.

She said she waited to file a report with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office because she was not aware of the law.

"I thought if I didn't do it the next day, there was nothing I could do about it."
"I went to a trauma counselor, and he said, 'No, you have 30 years after you turn 18'."

Nothing has happened since she filed the report in 2015.

Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office claimed the case remains open.

“It was never assigned to a detective, and nothing was ever investigated,” she told the news outlet.

Despite the criminal complaint filed against him, Barnes was granted full custody of the child this year–records of which are sealed and kept hidden from public view.

The decision in Barnes' favor happened after he alleged Abelseth gave the child a cellphone.

Abelseth also said she was ordered to pay Barnes' child support.

Stacie Triche, who works for the non-profit organization Save Lives, is trying to figure out how the system was able to award the perpetrator by granting him full custody.

"When I found out she was a rape victim, and this rapist could potentially get full custody, that's when I stepped in and said something has to be done about this," said Triche.

"She's been forced to pay her perpetrator. Forced to pay her rapist child support and legal fees and give up custody of the child that's a product of the rape."
"It makes no sense."

Lawyers for the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LFASA) told WBRZ a case like this was unprecedented.

Attorney Sean Cassidy with LFASA said it seemed "pretty straightforward" a crime had been committed and as a result of the crime, the perpetrator "should not have custody of the child."

Abelseth was not optimistic about justice prevailing and allowing her to see her daughter again.

She claimed Barnes was "well-connected."

"He's threatened me multiple times, saying he has connections in the justice system, so I better be careful and he can take her away anytime he wants to."
"I didn't believe him until it happened."

WBRZ noted Barnes is a business owner of Gumbeaux Digital Branding–a web company in Ponchatoula, which is located in Tangipahoa Parish.

The company's website lists the Ponchatoula Police Department as a client.

WBRZ reached out to Judge Jeffrey Cashe, who made the custody decision.

However, an employee in his office informed the outlet judicial canons prevented the judge from discussing the case.