Crysta Abelseth is the woman who says she was ordered to pay child support to the man who raped her and give him custody of her 16-year-old daughter. Judge Jeffrey Cashe is the Louisiana judge who presided over the custody case in Hammond, Louisiana.
Read more about Cashe here and read more about the alleged rapist here. Abelseth, is now 32 years old. She told WBRZ that John Barnes raped her when he was 30 years old and she was 16. Abelseth is being supported by non-profit organizations, including Save Lives, founded by Stacie Triche in Hammond, Louisiana.
“She’s been forced to pay her perpetrator,” Triche told WBRZ. “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.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Abelseth Says Barnes Has Bragged About Having Connections in Law Enforcement
WBRZ reported a paternity test proved Barnes was the father of the child with near certainty, and that he has admitted to being the father of Abelseth’s daughter. The age difference between Barnes and Abelseth would make the case a sexual assault whether or not it was consensual, which Abelseth maintains it was not, according to WBRZ. She filed a police report in 2015 with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, which remains open, the sheriff’s office told the news station.
“He’s well connected,” Abelseth told the news outlet. “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.”
Barnes owns Gumbeaux Digital Branding, a web company in Ponchatoula which lists Ponchatoula Police as a client.
2. Abelseth Is Married & Has a Young Child With Her New Husband
Abelseth was married in 2019, according to her public Facebook page. A wedding picture shows her surrounded by bridesmaids in coordinated, neutral dresses, along with a smiling teenage girl in cowboy boots.
“That was a great evening. You and your wedding party looked fabulous,” one person wrote in the comments.
He profile includes few public details. She frequently shares photos of her daughter, with commenters referring to them as “twins.”
“2 Beautiful ladies. Love y’all,” one person commented.
A woman who identified herself as Abelseth’s aunt wrote on Facebook that she was supporting her fight.
“Please share and keep this mother and daughter in your prayers. You are tremendously brave,” she wrote. “…Your aunt and uncle are extremely proud of you for continuing to fight for your daughter’s well-being.”
3. An Outside Law Enforcement Agency Was Requested to Review the Case
Cashe’s office did not immediately return a call seeking comment from Heavy. District Attorney Scott Perrilloux told WBRZ he is reviewing the case. Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission told the news outlet he was requesting an outside law enforcement agency to look at the case.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Goyeneche told the news station. “I’ve never seen anything like this. This is confounding and deeply disturbing.”
“That’s why I’m making a referral to another agency today, for them to take a fresh look at it to see if it rises to the level of an actionable felony, and the agency that I would refer it to would have the authority to seek an arrest warrant and arrest any culpable individuals in this case,” Goyeneche added.
4. Abelseth Said She Filed a Police Report Against Barnes When She Learned She Was Still Within the Legal Timeframe
Abelseth decided to pursue criminal charges against Barnes in 2015, she told WBRZ.
“A report she filed with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office for simple rape details everything that was done to her,” the news outlet reported.
Abelseth told the news outlet that until that time, she did not realize that she still had legal recourse.
“I thought if I didn’t do it the next day, there was nothing I could do about it,” Abelseth told the news outlet. “I went to a trauma counselor, and he said, ‘No, you have 30 years after you turn 18.'”
WBRZ reported that “nothing has happened” since she filed the report seven years ago. The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office told the news outlet the investigation remains open.
“It was never assigned to a detective, and nothing was ever investigated,” Abelseth told WBRZ.
5. Save Liv35, a Hammond-Based Non-Profit Organization, Is Collecting Donations for Abelseth
Hammond-based non-profit Save Liv35 is collecting donations for Abelseth. You can make a donation here.
“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,” Triche told WBRZ.
She founded the organization after the death of her nephew, according to the Save Liv35 website.
Due to the devastation of losing my nephew, SAVE LIV35 Foundation was formed in his honor with a mission to inspire others and encourage new beginnings through Faith, Hope & Love. Charlie was issued his high school football jersey number 35 weeks before he died. He never got to wear the #35 jersey he was so proud of and by including the number 35 in SAVE LIV35 it’s my way of wearing it in his honor. Since his death, I’ve devoted all my energy to spreading awareness and speaking in schools, camps, churches, seminars, shelters, etc. in hopes of saving a child’s life. There is no greater pain than a family having to bury their child, and I will do everything in my power to try and prevent another family from having to bear the burden of loss because their child was unaware of the dangers of inhalants or other drugs. I hold on to Jeremiah 29:11. It was the last scripture I taught my nephew the week before he died. ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’