John Barnes is the Ponchatoula, Louisiana man accused of raping and impregnating Crysta Abelseth when she was 16 and he was 30 in Hammond, crime victim advocates said. Judge Jeffrey Cashe granted Barnes full custody of the child, who is now 16, and ordered Abelseth to pay him child support, according to a local news report.
Abelseth is now 32 years old. Read more about her here and find background on the judge here. Abelseth is being supported by non-profit organizations, including Save Liv35, 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. Barnes Is the Owner of Gumbeaux Digital Branding, Which Lists the Ponchatoula Police as a Client
John Barnes’ LinkedIn page lists him as the owner of Gumbeaux Digital Branding in Ponchateula. His profile was deactivated as news spread of the case. His website remained active as of 7:30 p.m. June 15, 2022, but some pages, including a link to request a free quote, generated an error code.
“Please excuse us while we are rebuilding our website,” the website said.
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. A Yellow Place Listing for Gumbeaux Digital Was Updated By Hackers
A Yellow Place listing for Barnes’ company appeared to contain its original content – with a few additions.
“Gumbeaux Digital – Child rapist certified,” the listing says along with a phone number, website and address.
“Specializing in small to medium business digital branding and marketing through responsive web design, SMM and SEO. Owned by John Barnes, a child rapist,” the page says under the “About” section.
Under the “Awards” section, the listing says, “Being a child rapist – John Barnes.”
Heavy.com could not immediately verify whether the listed phone number and address were associated with Barnes. The phone line was busy during repeated call attempts.
3. An Outside Law Enforcement Agency Was Requested to Review the Case
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. Cashe’s office did not immediately return a call seeking comment from Heavy.
“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. A Police Report Filed Against Barnes Remains Open
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.’