UPDATE: Rape Victim Loses Custody, Ordered to Pay Her Abuser Child Support

PONCHATOULA – A corruption watchdog told WBRZ Tuesday he’s requesting an outside law enforcement entity to come in and review the case where a rape victim was ordered to pay her perpetrator child support. 

Less than 24 hours after the WBRZ Investigative Unit aired the story, District Attorney Scott Perrilloux also told WBRZ he is reviewing the case. Prior to today, DA Scott Perrilloux said his office had not received anything on it.

“If a child is born from a felony rape, the law mandates that the abuser shall not have visitation or contact with that child..much less custody,” Sean Cassidy with the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault said.

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DEADLINE: PONCHATOULA, Louisiana — It’s one of the most egregious cases victims’ advocates tell the WBRZ Investigative Unit they have ever seen, after a judge awarded full custody to a woman’s abuser and forced her to pay child support. This story dates back decades and involves a woman who was raped at the age of 16 by a man almost twice her age.

Crysta Abelseth met John Barnes in the City of Hammond back in 2005. She says he offered to take her home after a night out at a local restaurant with friends. “Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house,” Abelseth recalled. “Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch.” Abelseth did not know Barnes before that night, but came away from it pregnant.

Democratic Underground

“Everyone assumed it [the pregnancy] was from a boyfriend, and I let them believe that,” Abelseth recalled. She had a healthy baby girl, and everything was fine until John Barnes learned sometime in 2011 that he might have a daughter.

“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 is part of court documents that proves with 99.97% accuracy, John Barnes is the child’s father. Barnes was 30 years old and Abelseth 16 at the time of conception. The act was illegal at the time, even if it were consensual; Abelseth maintains it never was.

Lots more where that came from at WBRZ

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