[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A Louisiana judge has revoked a decision that gave a man full custody of the teenage daughter conceived by his alleged rape victim.
According to online records obtained by People, Judge Jeffrey Cashe decided on Tuesday to temporarily place Crysta Abelseth and John Barnes’ 15-year-old in the care of a third-party guardian until a custody decision is made when the trial starts July 15. The updated ruling also ordered that the two will alternate custody of the child on weekends for the time being, and both of them had to sign off on the court-appointed steward. In addition, the judge appointed the teen her own attorney.
This reversal comes after the public became completely enraged to learn Judge Cashe had awarded John full custody of their daughter last month. Crysta was even ordered to pay child support — despite previously filing a sexual assault complaint against Barnes. There were also reported allegations he had been sexually, physically, and verbally abusive towards a child.
How did he get custody in the first place?!
The shocking decision happened only because John claimed Crysta bought her kid a cellphone. Yeah, you read that right. Despite being accused of rape AND child abuse, he was given custody because mom bought her little girl a phone. Infuriating.
As we previously reported, this all started on December 13, 2005, when Crysta was 16 years old and Barnes was 30. She accepted a ride home from the adult after drinking at a bar in Hammond — but instead, she claims, he took her to his house and raped her on the living room couch. Barnes, now 46, has denied the allegations, calling them “absolutely, unequivocally false” in an interview with Fox News Digital on Monday:
“It’s a lie. She was in a bar with a fake ID, telling everyone she was a college student. I had no idea she was 16, and I didn’t rape her.”
FYI, while he may insist their encounter was consensual, it would still be statutory rape since the age of consent was 17 in Louisiana at the time.
Crysta later gave birth to a baby girl, never telling John about their newborn. She raised her daughter for years in secret, but eventually he somehow found out about the little one in 2011. She previously told WBRZ:
“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. They granted him 50/50 custody despite the fact that [the child] was caused by rape.”
While Crysta maintains she has no clue how John discovered the child’s existence, he claimed to Fox News Digital that she actually revealed to him that he might be the dad. DNA testing later confirmed that was the case.
Four years later, the momma filed a sexual assault complaint with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, detailing everything that happened between them. She claimed that John had threatened to seek full custody of her daughter if she tried to pursue criminal charges against him. Crysta also believed at the time that sexual assault victims only had 24 hours to make a report to the police — she only filed once she learned the statute of limitations for rape is actually 30 years after the person turns 18.
However, the allegations were never investigated properly as the complaint was not assigned to a detective until this year! The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office since acknowledged the mistake, saying the case was given to prosecutors on Wednesday:
“In tracing this case back to the time the initial complaint was filed on July 1, 2015, it was discovered that the report never made it through the proper channels within the department to be assigned for investigation. Therefore, our department absolutely dropped the ball, and we simply must own our mistake. This is a mistake, however, that simply has never been a problem before or since, and we must make sure to keep it that way.”
Crysta and John have been in the middle of a nasty legal battle for years, ever since he sued for sole custody in May 2015, when he claimed she was having men stay overnight while their daughter was home. He told Fox News Digital:
“Men were coming in and out of my child’s life. She had three husbands in six years and it wasn’t healthy.”
Um, that’s her business. It’s not up to this man to decide what’s healthy.
After Judge Cashe joined the case in August 2015, a split-custody agreement was created — with Crysta being forced to pay $78.41 to Barnes each month. It was later increased to $117.72 per month in 2017. While Crysta asked for the dad’s custody to be limited, Judge Cashe denied it and then later held her in contempt twice for giving her daughter a phone after he barred her from owning one. Barnes claims he did not want the teen to have a phone after finding out there were supposedly inappropriate pictures and videos on her old device.
When the child abuse accusations were brought up and Crysta asked for full custody during a March 18, 2022, hearing, Judge Cashe brushed it aside, arguing that criminal charges were not pursued, and there was a lack of evidence to support the claims. That’s when John filed for custody days later, claiming Crysta gave her kid another phone. And you know what happened next.
It is absolutely maddening how this case has been handled. At every turn it seems everything Barnes said was taken as gospel, but the judge demanded Crysta prove everything. So unfair. Everyone will have to see what happens next when they return to court next month — hopefully, though, the judge does not make the same jaw-dropping decision again.
See more on the disturbing case (below):
[Image via WBRZ/YouTube, NewsNation/YouTube]