(NewsNation) — A Louisiana woman says, earlier this year, the man she accuses of raping her was given full custody of her daughter. A judge then reportedly ordered her to pay the man child support.
Crysta Abelseth says she met John Barnes, the man who allegedly raped her, at a bar in Louisiana on Dec. 15, 2005. She was only 16, and he was 30. “When my daughter was 5 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 told WBRZ News in Baton Rouge.
Today, her daughter is 16, and a DNA test proves that Barnes is the father, according to court records obtained by WBRZ. “Back when I filed the charges (of rape against Barnes), I was told that it would be handled with care and that they would take the proper steps,” Abelseth said during an appearance Wednesday night on NewsNation’s “Banfield.”
However, Abelseth claims that she still can’t get any answers from the legal system about where her case stands. “I gave them witness phone numbers and everything they asked me for. No one has contacted me. I’ve made multiple phone calls to the detectives. I’ve sent emails asking for the status of the case. No response,” Abelseth said.
Stacie Triche, who is Abelseth’s advocate and founder of the nonprofit SAVLIV35 Foundation, believes that politics are at play with the judge’s decision. “You have birth certificates. You have DNA evidence. All the facts are there, so this mother should have never had to go through this mud that she’s going through for the past 10 years with this legal battle back and fourth, because he should have never been given any rights to the child at all,” Triche said.
Abelseth also alleges that she lost partial custody because she gave her 16-year-old daughter a cellphone. “Crysta did not give her 15-year-old another cellphone. It was an allegation that was made. An ex parte was filed, and Crysta lost custody. She wasn’t able to defend herself,” Tiche said.
Abelseth said that she’s only able to visit her daughter during supervised visitations every other weekend. “He’s blocked my number. He will not let me speak to her, and that’s been a few weeks.”
“What is so beyond shocking about this case is we’re dealing with an amazing mother who’s never been in trouble with the law. She’s never had a drug problem. Yet, custody is being taken away from her. However, he has a criminal past,” Triche said.
WBRZ-TV reporter Chris Nakamoto, one of the investigative reporters who broke the story, said that he reached out to Judge Jeffrey Cashe, who made the custody decision. He was told by an employee in the judge’s office that judicial canons prevent the judge from talking about it.
Jarrett Ambeau, an expert in forensic DNA and family law, told NewsNation’s “Banfield” that he knows Cashe to be a reasonable person but that he believes the case to be completely “confounding.”
“A police report was filed seven years ago in 2015 alleging this improper action. And for seven years, a law enforcement entity literally allowed it to sit on a shelf somewhere and (it) appears nothing was done,” Nakamoto said.