Sheriff admits ‘dropping the ball’ after woman ordered to give child to her accused rapist

Sheriff admits ‘dropping the ball’ after woman ordered to give child to her accused rapist

Sheriff admits ‘dropping the ball’ after woman ordered to give child to her accused rapist

A Louisiana sheriff has admitted to making a mistake when it failed to investigate a woman’s allegation that she had been raped at age 16 after a court granted her alleged attacker custody of their daughter.

Crysta Abelseth, 32, told the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2015 that John Barnes, 46, raped her in December 2005, when she was just 16; her daughter, who is now 16 herself, was born in August 2006.

In the intervening years, Mr. Barnes not only found out that he was the child’s biological father – a fact confirmed by a DNA test – but he was also given 50/50 custody and, earlier this year, custody.

Ms Abelseth is currently allowed to visit under supervision with her daughter and a court date has been set for next month.

Her allegations against Mr. Barnes received national attention this week when she gave an interview with local ABC affiliate WBRZ, published on June 12, which raised questions about law enforcement’s response to her report about seven years earlier.

Four days later, on Thursday, authorities held out and admitted serious mistakes had been made in handling the situation.

“In tracing this case back to the time when the first complaint was filed on July 1, 2015, it was discovered that the report never made it through the appropriate channels within the department to be assigned for investigation,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. . †

“That’s why our department definitely dropped the ball, and we just have to admit our mistake. However, this is a bug that has never been a problem before or since, and we need to make sure it stays that way.

“The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office has reviewed and identified the disruption in operations related to the initial complaint filed by the complainant,” Sheriff Daniel Edwards said in the press release, though it went on to note that Ms Abelseth “is of no consequence.” given to this issue until April 2022.

“Upon receipt of the notice, a team of investigators was assigned and worked diligently to delve deeply into the facts surrounding the case. Due to the complex nature of their findings, the case was handed over to the Public Prosecution Service.”

The Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney have not responded to requests for comment from the independent before the statement was released.

Earlier this week, Ms. Abelseth told WBRZ that Barnes, who lives in the same small parish in Louisiana, had discovered her daughter when the girl was five years old.

At the time of conception, Mr. Barnes was reportedly 30 years old and Mrs. Abelseth was 16 years old, which is considered illegal in the state of Louisiana, even if there was permission.

When the couple met in 2005, Barnes reportedly asked her if he could escort her home from a restaurant in Tangipahoa, Louisiana where they had met.

“Instead of taking me home, he took me to his house,” Ms Abelseth claimed in an interview with the news channel. “Once inside, he raped me on the couch in the living room.”

Ms Abelseth only sued Mr Barnes for seven years because, as she told WBRZ, she didn’t know how to navigate the law and mistakenly believed that if she didn’t report it the next day she would have no legal remedies .

However, a trauma therapist later informed the woman 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 channel, the investigation into the charges remains open with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Ms Abelseth has said her case has “never been 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 for allegedly giving 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 company in Ponchatoula, which listed the local police as a customer. The phone line for Gumbeaux Digital Branding was busy on Thursday and then seemingly disconnected; a man who answered a call to another number listed for him hung up immediately when contacted by the independent

His LinkedIn profile was also removed on Thursday.