June 15, 2022
Crysta Abelseth was just 16 years old when she was allegedly raped by a man who gave her a lift home from a local restaurant after a night out with her friends.
Now, Louisiana Judge Jeffrey Cashe has given the accused rapist custody of the child conceived in the alleged 2005 attack.
The judge has also ordered Abelseth to pay the man child support.
“Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house,” Abelseth claimed to WBRZ of John Barnes, who is now 32. “Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch.”
She became pregnant and had a daughter, who is now a teenager.
“Everyone assumed it (the pregnancy) was from a boyfriend, and I let them believe that,” Abelseth told the outlet.
About five years later, Barnes reentered her life when he discovered that Abelseth’s daughter could be his.
“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,” Abelseth said, adding that a DNA test proved he was the father. “They granted him 50/50 custody even though (the child) was caused by rape.”
She filed rape charges against Barnes in 2015 when she discovered the charges were within the state’s statute of limitations.
“I thought if I didn’t do it the next day, there was nothing I could do about it,” Abelseth said. “I went to a trauma counsellor, and he said, ‘No, you have 30 years after you turn 18.’”
According to the news outlet, the case remains open with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, and no charges had been filed.
“It was never assigned to a detective, and nothing was ever investigated,” Abelseth said, adding she allegedly lost custody over her daughter because she gave her a cellphone.
Bizarrely, the court records are sealed in connection with the controversial case.
“He’s well connected,” Abelseth told the station of Barnes, adding he works with local police.
“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,” she alleged. “I didn’t believe him until it happened.”
Additionally, Abelseth was under the age of consent at the time of the incident, meaning the alleged incident would qualify as statutory rape.
“It seems pretty straightforward that not only did a crime take place, but as a result of the crime, this person should not have custody of the child,” alleged Sean Cassidy, a lawyer with the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault.