‘It’s a lie’: Louisiana man, granted custody, denies raping child’s mother as messy battle unfolds

A Louisiana man at the center of an explosive, multi-year battle in which he was awarded temporary custody of and child support for his daughter vehemently denies accusations that he raped the girl’s then-16-year-old mother amid admission by the sheriff that his department “dropped the ball.”

In 2005, John Barnes, then 30, met 16-year-old Crysta Abelseth, who was partying with friends at a bar in Hammond, Louisiana.

The night ended in sex, and the sex ended in the birth of a baby girl — a fact Barnes did not discover for five years when a paternity test confirmed that he was the father after an imprisoned man named James Threeton — who had signed the child’s birth certificate — was ruled out.

Barnes was awarded joint custody of the little girl.

Ten years later, after brutal back-and-forth court dates, Tangipahoa Parish Family Judge Jeffrey Cashe awarded temporary sole custody. In 2016, Abelseth was ordered to pay Barnes $117 a month in child support going back to 2015.

Here’s the catch: In 2015,  Abelseth filed a police report claiming Barnes raped her that night, on his couch, when she was drunk, and the sheriff whose job it was to look into the claim now says his department “absolutely dropped the ball” and never properly investigated it.

What’s more, the daughter is now 16 — the same age Abelseth was when the incident allegedly occurred — and in February, Abelseth accused Barnes of drugging and raping her, too.

“It’s a lie,” Barnes told Fox News Digital. “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.”

But Sheriff Daniel Edwards isn’t so sure, and he’s now turned the case over to the district attorney’s office, WBRZ reports.

In a statement issued Friday, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office said the decision to turn it over to the DA “was made after the investigation revealed many layers and complexities surrounding the case, including statutory violations that were in effect during the 2005 timeframe of when the incident occurred.”

According to the statement, Judge Cashe has signed a “Reasons For Judgement,” allowing related court documents to be released to the public.

“In tracing this case back to the time the initial complaint was filed on July 1, 2015, it was discovered that the report never made it through the proper channels within the department to be assigned for investigation,” the statement revealed in a stunning admission. “Therefore, our department absolutely dropped the ball, and we simply must own our mistake. This is a mistake, however, that simply has never been a problem before or since, and we must make sure to keep it that way.”

When asked why she didn’t file a police report for a decade, Abelseth said, “I thought if I didn’t do it the next day, there was nothing I could do about it. I went to a trauma counselor, and he said, ‘No, you have 30 years after you turn 18.”

Since Barnes was awarded sole custody of the child, Abelseth has made the rounds in the media, claiming Barnes is a politically “well connected” violent rapist who was able to use his connections to corrupt the judicial system.

Meanwhile, Barnes alleges everything he has done has been to protect his daughter from a mother who exposed her to prison visits with Threeton and a “revolving door” of men at home.

“Her mother goes through men like a revolving door,” he told Fox News. “Men were coming in and out of my child’s life. She had three husbands in three years and it wasn’t healthy.”

Of the trips to prison to see Threeton, Barnes said, “[Abelseth] was undermining my relationship with my daughter, teaching my daughter that she has two dads.”

“All I have been trying to do is protect my daughter,” the accused father said. “There is no way in hell I have influenced seven very high-level organizations that are geared toward protecting children’s rights and safety into sweeping her claims of rape and child abuse under the rug.”

With the release of the court documents, the picture that has emerged is one of he-said, she-said accusations, claims of vile deeds and irresponsible parenting, and somewhere in there, perhaps someplace within sight of the baby girl — now a high school student — who has been pulled and punted throughout the ugly affair.

According to Fox News, “Abelseth has filed a motion to terminate Barnes’ parental rights based on the child allegedly being ‘conceived through the commission of a felony rape.'”

A hearing in the case is set for July 15.

Meanwhile, Barnes is looking toward his daughter’s future.

“She has a very promising future,” he says of his “very intelligent” girl. “I want to preserve that and keep her on the right track like any loving parent would want for their child.”

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Melissa Fine

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