UPDATE: Father at Center of High-Profile Rape Paternity Case Loses Custody of Teenage Daughter

DATELINE: AMITE CITY, La. — A man who impregnated a 16-year-old girl over 15 years ago will no longer have custody of the child who was born as a result of that crime after a series of reports from the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposing the case. 

Abelseth was 16 years old in 2005, when she alleges Barnes forced himself on her after a night of drinking at a bar. Barnes, who was 30 at the time, admitted to having sex with the underage girl but maintained their encounter was consensual. Court documents also also alluded to a “non-party eyewitness to the actual sexual encounter” which refuted Abelseth’s version of events.

Per Judge Jeffrey Cashe’s ruling, the pair’s daughter will remain with a third party who’s housed the girl for over a month while the custody battle played out in court. Abelseth will be granted visitation one weekend each month and any other times approved by the girl’s new guardians. 

Judge Cashe previously gave full custody to John Barnes. The mother, Crysta Abelseth was ordered to pay child support.

At the latest hearing, Crysta Abelseth was ordered to take a parenting class and go to family counseling sessions.

Barnes may not initiate contact with the girl, and he can only communicate with his daughter if she chooses to reach out to him first, according to court documents.

 Abelseth’s attorney, released the following statement Friday.

I think the judge made a good ruling with regard to Mr. Barnes. It’s the right outcome, should have been from the beginning.

As for my client’s custody and visitation, I didn’t hear sufficient evidence that she should not have custody of her child or at least be working toward having custody. We are disappointed that the third-party custodians have been granted sole custody on a permanent basis.

Crysta and I will talk about the outcome and make a decision on appealing that part of the judgment. She is very happy that the child will no longer be subject to visitation with Mr. Barnes.


This has been an update to “UPDATE: Rape Victim Loses Custody, Ordered to Pay Her Abuser Child Support” and

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