A Louisiana judge has temporarily reversed his decision to grant a man full custody of the 16-year-old girl conceived after he allegedly raped her mother in 2005, according to a report.
Judge Jeffrey Cashe, during a hearing on Tuesday, placed the teen in the care of a guardian pending a July 15 hearing to determine who will get custody, WBRZ reported.
Mom Crysta Abelseth told the station last week that her daughter’s dad, John Barnes, raped her when she was 16 after picking her up at a bar.
Abelseth alleged that Barnes, who was 30 at the time, impregnated her during the attack. She later gave birth to a girl who is now 16, according to the station.
Barnes reportedly came back into the picture five years later. A split-custody agreement was reached in 2015 after Judge Cashe took over the case.
Barnes, a businessman who owns tech company Gumbeaux Digital Branding, was granted full custody in March, and Abelseth was ordered to pay him child support as part of that ruling.
He denies Abelseth’s allegations, and told Fox News on Monday, “I had no idea she was 16, and I didn’t rape her.”
Abelseth, now 32, filed a formal complaint regarding the alleged attack in 2005 after she found out it was within Louisiana’s statute of limitations.
“I thought if I didn’t do it the next day, there was nothing I could do about it,” she told WBRZ of why she waited to contact cops. “I went to a trauma counselor, and he said, ‘No, you have 30 years after you turn 18.’ ”
Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards has acknowledged the allegations weren’t properly investigated, saying his department “absolutely dropped the ball” seven years ago.
“It was an accident and not some conspiracy,” Edwards told WBRZ. “I feel bad for Crysta that happened. But I want the public to know this was not a willful continuing failure.”
Court documents filed in the custody battle in February alleged for the first time that the 16-year-old girl was conceived as a result of rape and accused Barnes of also drugging and assaulting the teen, WBRZ reported. He has denied those allegations.
The girl was taken to New Orleans, where doctors allegedly confirmed evidence indicated a sexual assault. But the judge dismissed those claims, as well as Abelseth’s accusations of rape.
The ruling on Tuesday temporarily taking custody away from Barnes was welcomed by Abelseth, who now has an attorney representing her pro bono after seeing her claims on WBRZ.
“People should be held accountable,” attorney Jarrett Ambeau told the station. “The system failed everyone here. The system, when that happens, should be held accountable, and we plan to do that.”
Barnes has not been criminally charged.
“It’s a lie,” he told Fox News Monday. “She was in a bar with a fake ID, telling everyone she was a college student. I had no idea she was 16, and I didn’t rape her. That is absolutely, unequivocally false.”
The age of consent in Louisiana is 17.