Crysta Abelseth alleges that the 30-year-old John Barnes offered her a ride home when she was 16 before raping her.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of rape that some readers may find distressing
A Louisiana woman lost custody of her teenage daughter to a man who allegedly raped and impregnated her. Not only was Crysta Abelseth's daughter taken away from her and handed to her alleged abuser, but she was also ordered to pay child support to him. Abelseth was just 16 when she met John Barnes at a bar in the City of Hammond in 2005. He offered her a ride home. “Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house. Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch,” Abelseth told WBRZ. Abelseth became pregnant and everyone around her assumed a boyfriend had impregnated her at the time. “And I let them believe that,” she said.
Abelseth gave birth to a baby girl and lived with her. In 2011, Barnes found out that Abelseth’s daughter might be his child. She was just five years old at the time. He filed for custody and a DNA test was ordered, and it proved that Barnes was the father of the child. He received 50/50 custody at the time. Abelseth states that she was raped but even if the sexual encounter had been consensual it would have been illegal as the age of consent in the state is 17. Abelseth only recently learned that she could report the rape now. She had assumed you had to report it immediately. “I thought if I didn’t [report Barnes] the next day, there was nothing I could do about it,” she said. “I went to a trauma counselor, and he said, ‘No, you have 30 years after you turn 18.’”
She then pressed criminal charges against Barnes for rape with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office but almost 10 years have passed and the case hasn't gotten anywhere. “It was never assigned to a detective, and nothing was ever investigated,” said Abelseth, who lost custody of her daughter this year after he alleged that she gave the teenager a cellphone. The court records with regards to the case have been sealed. She has accused Barnes of intimidating her. “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 recalled. “I didn’t believe him until it happened.”
Barnes is the owner of Gumbeaux Digital Branding, the business listed the Ponchatoula Police Department as a client. The department's name was not featured on the business' website after it became a news story. Soon after, the site appeared to be under construction, offering visitors just a one-click option for a free quote. Within 24 hours of Abelseth’s interview with WBRZ airing on Monday, District Attorney Scott Perrilloux confirmed he is reviewing the case. Many sexual assault cases remain open with victims waiting for some justice. According to RAINN, three out of four sexual assaults are not reported to the police and for every 1,000 instances of rape, only 13 are referred to prosecutors. And only seven cases lead to a felony conviction.
Stacie Triche, of the non-profit organization Save Lives, has been helping Abelseth with her legal fight after learning that her 'rapist' could get full custody of the child. "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, reported Raw story. "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."
If you are being subjected to sexual assault, or know of anyone who is, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673)
Cover Image source: YouTube screenshot/WBRZDisclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.