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Woman Who Says She Gave Birth To Her Rapist’s Baby As A Teen Ordered To Pay Him Child Support After Losing Custody

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Crysta Abelseth

A woman in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, was 16 years old when 30-year-old John Barnes offered to take her home after a night out at a restaurant with her friends.

Instead of taking her home, however, Barnes took her to his house and raped her.

She became pregnant after the assault and gave birth to the child, who was forcefully taken by her abuser.

A judge awarded her rapist full custody of the child and forced her to pay child support to him.

Now, 32-year-old Crysta Abelseth, is speaking out about the awful crime that took place in 2005 when she met Barnes in the city of Hammond, Louisiana. 

Abelseth claims that she did not know Barnes before the night that he raped her, but that she came away from the assault pregnant.

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"Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house," Abelseth told WBRZ. "Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch."

She gave birth to a healthy baby girl, whose name was not released due to the fact that she is still a minor.

"Everyone assumed it [the pregnancy] was from a boyfriend, and I let them believe that," Abelseth recalled.

Everything was fine until 2011 when Barnes discovered that he might be the father of the 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 said. "They granted him 50/50 custody despite the fact that [the child] was caused by rape."

A DNA test confirmed with 99.7% accuracy that Barned was indeed the child’s father.

The act was illegal at the time regardless of whether consent was given or not, considering that Abelseth was a minor when Barnes was 30 — but Abelseth maintains that there was no consent given by her.

In July 2015, Abelseth pressed criminal charges against Barnes with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office — a report that went nowhere as the investigation remains open.

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She had waited until 2015 because, at the time of her rape, she did not understand the law and believed she could no longer file a report.

"I thought if I didn't do it the next day, there was nothing I could do about it," Abelseth said. "I went to a trauma counselor, and he said, 'No, you have 30 years after you turn 18.'"

The case was never given to an investigator and nothing was investigated, according to Abelseth.

According to research by WBRZ, Barnes owned Gumbeaux Digital Branding, a web company in Ponchatoula. One of the company’s clients is the Ponchatoula Police.

Barnes was awarded full custody by a judge this year.

"He's well connected," Abelseth said. "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."

An agent from the non-profit organization Save Lives, Stacie Triche, is helping Abelseth navigate through the web of trying to get custody of her daughter back and getting the law involved in the criminal complaint lodged against Barnes years ago.

"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 said.

Not only had the judge awarded Barnes with full custody, but Abelseth was being forced to pay child support.

She alleges that she’s been trying to go through all of this the right way — through the courts — but is losing confidence in the legal system.

"She's been forced to pay her perpetrator," Triche said. "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."

Next month, Abelseth will appear at a hearing to revoke Barnes of his parental rights.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. He graduated from Rutgers University. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.

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