(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) A Louisiana woman has been ordered by the court to give up her child and pay child support to a man who raped her, in what many are calling a profoundly egregious miscarriage of justice.
Crysta Abelseth was raped at the age of 16, by a man who was almost twice her age, WRBZ reported. John Barnes met Abelseth in Hammond, Louisiana, where he offered to give her a ride home after a night out at a local bar.
“Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house,” Abelseth recalled. “Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch.”
It was not long before she found out she was pregnant.
“Everyone assumed it [the pregnancy] was from a boyfriend, and I let them believe that,” Abelseth said.
Barnes found out that he may have a daughter in 2011, when the girl was 5.
“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.
“They granted him 50/50 custody despite the fact that [the child] was caused by rape.”
Barnes was 30 years old and Abelseth was 16 at the time of conception, making the act itself illegal despite the apparent lack of consent.
Abelseth said she waited so long to file the police report because she didn’t know she was able to file after the following day. She filed in 2015, and no investigation has taken place.
This year, however, Barnes was granted full custody of the now 15-year old daughter, and Abelseth has also been ordered to pay child support.
Records from the criminal complaint filed by Abelseth have mysteriously gone missing, WRBZ reported, and a search the outlet did for John Barnes showed he owns Gumbeaux Digital Branding, a web company in Ponchatoula. Barnes’ website shows Ponchatoula Police as a client.
“He’s well connected,” Abelseth said.
“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.”
Lawyers with the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault were appalled by the case.
“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,” Attorney Sean Cassidy with LFASA said.
A statement from the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office admitted to “dropping the ball,” and said the investigation has been turned over to the District Attorney’s office.