Crysta Abelseth in 2015 reported that she’d become pregnant at 16 while underage; it was never investigated
A Louisiana sheriff’s office has admitted to making a mistake when it failed to investigate a woman’s claim that she was raped at 16 ans – after a court awarded her alleged attacker sole custody of their daughter.
Crysta Abelseth, 32, told the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2015 that John Barnes, 46, had raped her in December 2005, when she was just 16; her daughter, who is almost 16 se, was born in August 2006.
In the intervening years, Mr Barnes not only discovered that he was the child’s biological father – a fact confirmed by a DNA test – but was also given 50/50 custody and, plus tôt cette année, sole custody.
Ms Abelseth is currently allowed supervised visits with her daughter and a court date has been set for next month.
Her allegations against Mr Barnes gained national attention this week when she gave an interview with local ABC affiliate WBRZ published 12 juin – raising questions about the law enforcement response to her report roughly seven years earlier.
Four days later on Thursday, authorities held up their hands and admitted there had been serious errors in their handling of the situation.
“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,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
"Par conséquent, our department absolutely dropped the ball, and we simply must own our mistake. This is a mistake, pourtant, that simply has never been a problem before or since, and we must make sure to keep it that way.
“The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office has reviewed and identified the breakdown in operations relating to the initial complaint filed by the complainant,” Sheriff Daniel Edwards said in the release, though it went on to note that Ms Abelseth “did not follow up on this matter until April of 2022.
“Upon receiving notice, a team of investigators were assigned to and worked diligently to delve deep into the facts surrounding the case. Due to the complex nature of their findings, the case was turned over to the District Attorney’s Office.”
The sheriff’s office and district attorney did not respond to requests for comment from L'indépendant before the statement was released.
Earlier in the week, Ms Abelseth had told WBRZ that Barnes, who lives in the same small Louisiana parish, found out about her daughter when the girl was five years old.
At the time of conception, Mr Barnes was allegedly 30 years old and Ms Abelseth was 16 ans, which in the state of Louisiana is considered illegal, even if there was consent.
When the pair met in 2005, Mr Barnes had allegedly asked her if he could escort her home from a Tangipahoa, Louisiana restaurant where they’d met.
“Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house,” Ms Abelseth alleged in an interview with the news station. “Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch.”
Ms Abelseth didn’t press criminal charges against Mr Barnes until seven years ago, car, as she told WBRZ, she didn’t know how to navigate the law and mistakenly thought that if she hadn’t reported it by the next day, then she had no legal recourse.
A trauma counselor, pourtant, informed the woman later that she had 30 years to report the crime after she turned 18. In the report she filed with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, viewed by WBRZ, she provided details of the alleged attack.
According to the news outlet, the investigation into the charges remains open at the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Ms Abelseth has said that her case was “never assigned to a detective”.
The case took an even more dramatic turn this year when Ms Abelseth was also ordered to pay child support to her alleged attacker, all because she’d reportedly given her teenage daughter a cell phone.
The next hearing in the case for Ms Abelseth to revoke Mr Barnes’ parental rights is scheduled for next month.
Mr Barnes owns a digital branding firm in Ponchatoula which listed the local police as a client. The phone line for Gumbeaux Digital Branding was busy Thursday then seemingly disconnected; a man who answered a call to another number listed for him immediately hung up when contacted by L'indépendant.
His LinkedIn profile had also been taken down Thursday.