A Louisiana judge has reversed a decision that gave a man full custody of his teenage daughter, who was allegedly conceived from rape.
According to WBRZ, Judge Jeffrey Cashe announced his decision Tuesday after Crysta Abelseth went public with her shocking custody battle with John Barnes. Abelseth said she had met the man in 2005, when she was just 16 and he was 30. The woman claimed she accepted Barnes’ offer to give her a ride home after a night of drinking, but he instead took her to his house and allegedly raped her on his couch. Abelseth went on to give birth to girl, who was later confirmed to be Barnes’ biological daughter.
Barnes pursued custody of the child in 2011, shortly after he learned of her existence. About four years later, Abelseth filed a complaint alleging sexual assault against Barnes; however, she claimed local authorities never took up the case, as Barnes was “well connected” to law enforcement.
Back in March, Barnes was granted full custody of his now-16-year-old daughter, after telling a judge Abelseth had broken the terms of their agreement by giving the teen a cellphone without his permission. Not only did Abelseth lose custody of her girl, she was also ordered to pay Barnes child support.
The case sparked outrage last week, when Abelseth decided to share her story with the media. The public slammed Louisiana officials for their handling of the case, pointing out that Barnes had committed a crime under state law, which sets the age of consent at age 17.
On Tuesday, Judge Jeffrey Cashe temporarily revoked Barnes’ custody of the teen, who is now in the care of a guardian. The judge is expected to make a decision on custody during a July 15 hearing.
“What I want the public to know is in 2015, we dropped the ball,” Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards told WBRZ. “It was an accident and not some conspiracy. I feel bad for Crysta that happened. But, I want the public to know this was not a willful continuing failure.”
It’s unclear if Barnes will be charged with statutory rape for the 2005 incident.