How cops failed Crysta Abelseth resulting in alleged rapist getting custody of child she bore after assault

'Our department absolutely dropped the ball, and we simply must own our mistake,' said the sheriff in a statement


                            How cops failed Crysta Abelseth resulting in alleged rapist getting custody of child she bore after assault
Daniel Edwards (R) accepted that his office carelessly investigated the rape case of Abelseth by John Barnes (L), the accused (Screenshots from WBRZ and Sheriff Daniel H Edwards/Facebook)
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This article contains information about sexual assault that could be traumatic for some readers. Discretion is advised.

TANGIPAHOA, LOUISIANA: Crysta Abelseth earlier alleged that John Barnes raped and impregnated her in 2005 when she was 16 and he was 30. She told WBRZ that the accused promised to give her a ride home from a local restaurant after a night out with friends. “Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house. Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch,” Abelseth said about John Barnes. In addition to this, a judge gave the accused the custody of the child conceived from the crime and ordered his underage victim to pay child support in May of this year. Now, the latest update to the case is a sheriff, named Daniel Edwards, accepting that his office carelessly investigated the rape case.

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The statement from the Louisiana sheriff, who was responsible for assigning investigations back then, came into the picture as the department shuts its investigation into the complaint, which was first filed in 2015. He said, “Our department absolutely dropped the ball, and we simply must own our mistake." Now, the case has been passed to the district attorney's office, which will take a call on whether to pursue charges, if yes, then what will be those charges.

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Statement made by Daniel Edwards

The statement shared by WBRZ read, "Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards reports that as of June 15, 2022, the case involving allegations against 46-year-old John Barnes of Ponchatoula, LA, which has gained widespread media attention, has been turned over to the District Attorney’s Office."

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It further read, "This decision 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. Due to the sensitive nature of cases involving sexual assault victims and juveniles, the sheriff’s office, along with other law enforcement agencies, does not have the luxury of releasing detailed information to the public. In a statement released yesterday (June 14), 21st Judicial District Family Court Judge Jeff Cashe signed a 'Reasons For Judgement' which allows court documents related to this case to be made available to the public through the Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court’s Office. 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. 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. The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office has reviewed and identified the breakdown in operations relating to the initial complaint filed by the complainant. Since that time, enhancements to department procedures have been implemented and measures put in place to ensure reports from the public never go overlooked or mishandled. Especially those cases alleging criminal acts against our youth."

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It also stated, "The Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to protecting children and will do everything possible to protect the youth of our community from abuse and neglect. Additionally, it is important to note that the complainant did not follow up on this matter until April of 2022.  Upon receiving notice, a team of investigators were assigned to and worked diligently to delve deep into the facts surrounding the case. Due to the complex nature of their findings, the case was turned over to the District Attorney’s Office."

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Post this, many reacted to the statements made by the sheriff, One wrote, "Can you return a teenage girl to her mother? How does a rapist even get custody except the Sheriff didn’t assign it to be investigated. How many other women have reported rape that was “never assigned” And how many protective moms lost custody of kids to abusers?" Another user said, pointing out Governor John Bel Edwards, who happens to be the elder brother of the sheriff, "Your brother is the Sheriff who "dropped the ball" in the rape case that saw a rape victims daughter handed over to her alleged rapist -the rapist who allegedly threatened his victim with his 'connections'. Are you and your brother 'connections'? Judge Cashe?

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