A Louisiana judge has reportedly granted an accused rapist custody of a child conceived during an encounter with the at the time, underage mother. The incident occurred in 2005 according to news outlets.
Crystal Abelseth was just 16 years old at the time of the incident. John Barnes, nearly 32 years old at the time offered the young woman a ride home from a restaurant where she had spent the evening with friends. Instead of taking her home, he took her to his home where she was allegedly raped on his living room couch.
Abelseth, now 32, states she became pregnant and assumed it was her boyfriend’s child. She went on with life, delivering a healthy baby girl. Life came crashing down in 2011 when Barnes reappeared and searched for his potential child.
“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 told WBRZ News.
The rape was initially not reported by Abelseth due to her being unfamiliar with the law and what steps needed to be taken to report the incident. She believed that if nothing was reported within 24 hours of the attack there was no legal recourse. However, in 2015 Abelseth learned from a trauma counselor that is untrue and ironically the statute of limitations had yet to expire. At that point, Abelseth filed a report with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office. The case is currently under investigation presently and no charges have been filed.
Despite doing the right thing in a situation as such, Abelseth says her situation has become more challenging after the judge granted Barnes full custody of the minor child. Abelseth alleges that custody was granted due to her giving the child a cellphone. She has also been ordered to pay full child support in the case.
During her interview with WBRZ on Monday, Abelseth told reporters, “he’s threatened me multiple times, saying he has connections with the justice system, so I better be careful and he can take her away anytime he wants to. I didn’t believe it until it happened.”
Since the interview District Attorney Scott Perrilloux confirmed that the arrangement regarding custody is under review. If forcible rape cannot be proven, her age at the time should at least warrant charges for statutory rape as the age of consent in the state of Louisiana is 17 years old.