Woman, 32, who was raped at 16 by 30 year-old-man is ordered to give him full custody of child


A Louisiana mother who was raped at 16 by a 30 year-old-man has been ordered to give up custody of their daughter – and pay him child support. 

Crysta Abelseth’s life forever changed in 2005 after she accepted a ride home from John Barnes, now 46, when her friend decided to leave dinner early, Hammond local news station WBRZ‘s investigative team first reported. 

‘Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house. Once inside, he raped me on his leaving room couch,’ Abelseth, 32, told the outlet. 

Overcome by trauma and unsure of what to do, Abelseth let friends and relatives  believe that the pregnancy – a byproduct of the rape – was instead the result of a relationship she had at the time.  

Abelseth welcomed a baby girl and moved on with her life – until her alleged abuser found out about their then-five-year-old daughter in 2010.  

Barnes, the owner of a digital branding site, then began a legal battle against Abelseth to obtain custody rights. 

But despite filing a sexual assault report against Barnes in 2015 and fiercely fighting to have her child in her care, Abelseth’s custody rights over the 16-year-old were revoked last month over an allegation by Barnes that she bought a cellphone for their daughter, WBRZ reported. 

The ruling by Judge Jeffrey Cashe also forced Abelseth to pay child support to his alleged rapist, in what her advocates have branded an outrageous miscarriage of justice. 

Barnes, whose company’s client list includes law enforcement agencies, has not yet been charged with any crimes in relation to the allegations filed by Abelseth seven years ago. 

Crysta Abelseth’s (pictured) life forever changed in 2005 after she accepted a ride home from John Barnes, now 46, when her friend decided to leave dinner early

Abelseth claims that Barnes (pictured) raped her and she became pregnant as a product of the assault

Abelseth claims that Barnes (pictured) raped her and she became pregnant as a product of the assault 

But despite filing a sexual assault report against Barnes in 2015 and fiercely fighting to have her child in her care, Abelseth's custody rights were revoked last month over an allegation by Barnes that she bought a cellphone for their daughter

But despite filing a sexual assault report against Barnes in 2015 and fiercely fighting to have her child in her care, Abelseth’s custody rights were revoked last month over an allegation by Barnes that she bought a cellphone for their daughter

Abelseth met Barnes in 2005 outside a bar when he offered to take her home after her friend had decided to leave early, she said. 

But what followed were moments of terror, as she was allegedly sexually abused at his home. 

Records obtained by WBRZ show that a DNA test proved Barnes was the father of the child. At the time of conception, Barnes and Abelseth were 30 and 16, respectively.

The ruling by Judge Jeffrey Cashe also forced Abelseth to pay child support to his alleged rapist, in what her advocates have branded an outrageous miscarriage of justice

The ruling by Judge Jeffrey Cashe also forced Abelseth to pay child support to his alleged rapist, in what her advocates have branded an outrageous miscarriage of justice

Regardless of whether the sexual encounter was consensual, it would still be classified as statutory rape – as the age of consent in Louisiana is 17. 

‘Everyone assumed it [the pregnancy] was from a boyfriend, and I let them believe that,’ Abelseth told WBRZ.

‘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,’ she added. 

The 32-year-old mother had her daughter’s custody revoked last month and has been forced to pay child support and legal fees to Barnes. 

Now Abelseth is fighting to regain custody of her daughter, who is 16 – the same age as she was when she was allegedly attacked by Barnes. 

Speaking to the WBRZ, Abelseth said she has been threatened by Barnes, who is ‘well connected,’ she said. 

She added that a sexual assault report she filed against him with Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office has not been thoroughly investigated. 

‘It was never assigned to a detective, and nothing was ever investigated,’ Abelseth alleged. 

Barnes is the owner of Gumbeaux Digital, whose clients include Ponchatoula Police, where the company is located. 

At the time of conception, Barnes (pictured)  and Abelseth were 30 and 16, respectively. Regardless of whether the sexual encounter was consensual, it would classify as statutory rape as the age of consent in Louisiana is 17

At the time of conception, Barnes (pictured)  and Abelseth were 30 and 16, respectively. Regardless of whether the sexual encounter was consensual, it would classify as statutory rape as the age of consent in Louisiana is 17

But despite the investigation Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office said is still open, he was granted full custody of the child.

But despite the investigation Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office said is still open, he was granted full custody of the child.

Records obtained by WBRZ show that a DNA test proved Barnes was the father of the child

Records obtained by WBRZ show that a DNA test proved Barnes was the father of the child

Abelseth said she didn’t think she could file a criminal complaint against Barnes after the day of the assault, and only found out that the statute of limitations would allow her to do so through a trauma counselor. 

‘I thought if I didn’t do it the next day, there was nothing I could do about it,’ Abelseth told WBRZ. 

‘I went to a trauma counselor, and he said, ‘No, you have 30 years after you turn 18.’

Although Barnes has admitted he is the biological father of his child with Abelseth, he has not been charged in connection with her allegations of rape. 

Neither has he been prosecuted for statutory rape. 

But despite the investigation Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office said is still open, he was granted full custody of the child. 

‘He’s well connected,’ Abelseth alleged. 

‘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.’ 

'She's been forced to pay her perpetrator,' Save Lives advocate Stacie Triche, who has helped Abelseth navigate the legal system as she tries to regain custody of her child, said. '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.'

‘She’s been forced to pay her perpetrator,’ Save Lives advocate Stacie Triche, who has helped Abelseth navigate the legal system as she tries to regain custody of her child, said. ‘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.’

The sheriff’s department told WBRZ that the investigation into Abelseth’s claims was open and ongoing – but has not moved since 2015.  

Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault attorney Sean Cassidy told WBRZ he had never come across a case like this. 

‘It seems pretty straight-forward that not only did a crime take place, but as a result of the crime, this person should not have custody of the child,’ he told the outlet.  

Save Lives advocate Stacie Triche, who has helped Abelseth navigate the legal system as she tries to regain custody of her child, echoed the feeling.  

‘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,’ she told WBRZ. 

‘She’s been forced to pay her perpetrator,’ Triche said. ‘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.’

Abelseth has appealed Judge Cashe’s decision and has a court hearing scheduled for July.  



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