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Who is Jeffrey Cashe? Judge under fire for giving alleged rapist custody of child born from assault

'I've never seen anything like this. This is confounding and deeply disturbing,' Rafael Goyeneche from Metropolitan Crime Commission said
UPDATED JUN 15, 2022
Judge Jeffrey Cashe has ordered Crysta Abelseth to pay child support to John Barnes, who allegedly raped her in 2005 (LinkedIn)
Judge Jeffrey Cashe has ordered Crysta Abelseth to pay child support to John Barnes, who allegedly raped her in 2005 (LinkedIn)

This article contains information about sexual assault that could be traumatic for some readers. Discretion is advised.

TANGIPAHOA PARISH, LOUISIANA: A judge has come under fire after he ruled in favor of a man accused of rape by giving him the custody of a child who was born out of the 2005 assault. Crysta Abelseth from Louisiana was just a 16-year-old girl when then 30-year-old John Barnes allegedly sexually assaulted her on the pretext of dropping her home.

The now-32-year-old Abelseth, who is also the mother of a 16-year-old girl, told WBRZ: “Instead of bringing me home, he brought me to his house. Once inside, he raped me on his couch.” She continued: “Everyone assumed it [the pregnancy] was from a boyfriend, and I let them believe that.”


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But her life was once again turned upside down when her daughter turned five and Barnes came to know about her. The mother said, “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. They granted him 50/50 custody despite the fact that [the child] was caused by rape.”

In 2015, ten years after the alleged rape happened, Abelseth filed rape charges against Barnes after understanding “it was within Louisiana’s statute of limitations,” The New York Post reported. The mother stated, “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.’”

The case is reportedly under the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and no charges have been filed yet against Barnes. “It was never assigned to a detective, and nothing was ever investigated,” she claimed. Her misery increased when she lost custody of her child after being accused of providing her with a cell phone. If that weren't enough, she was also ordered to pay child support to the alleged perpetrator.

“He’s well connected. He’s threatened me multiple times, saying he has connections in the justice system, so I better be careful and he can take her away anytime he wants to. I didn’t believe him until it happened,” Abelseth added.

Who is Jeffrey Cashe?

Judge Jeffrey Cashe is behind the contentious verdict. As per the 21st Judicial District Court, he “joined the 21st Judicial District Court in January 2015 as Judge for the Division ‘J’ Family Court.” 

Cashe reportedly graduated from the Southeastern Louisiana University before he went on to attend the St. Mary's University School of Law for his Juris Doctorate degree.

He started his law career at Baucum Steed Barker, LLC in San Antonio and later worked at the “firm of Cashe, Lewis, Coudrain and Sandage, a firm founded by his late father, Rodney Cashe.”

His list of associations includes being the “President of the 21st JDC Bar Association, Board Member and former pro-bono counsel for the Richard Murphy Hospice Foundation, Board Member of the Hammond Downtown Development District and Chamber of Commerce and former Board Member of the Home Mortgage Authority.”

Cashe’s recent ruling has left many frustrated and disheartened. Stacie Triche of the non-profit organization Save Lives reportedly said, “When I found out she was a rape victim, and this rapist could potentially get full custody, that’s when I stepped in and said something has to be done about this,” before adding: “She’s been forced to pay her perpetrator. Forced to pay her rapist child support and legal fees and give up custody of the child that’s a product of the rape. It makes no sense.”

Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault attorney Sean Cassidy remarked, “It seems pretty straightforward that not only did a crime take place, but as a result of the crime, this person should not have custody of the child.” Besides, a corruption watchdog has called for an external law enforcement body to re-examine the case after the controversial ruling. Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission told WBRZ, “I've been doing this a long time. I've never seen anything like this. This is confounding and deeply disturbing.”

Goyeneche explained: “That's why I'm making a referral to another agency today, for them to take a fresh look at it to see if it rises to the level of an actionable felony, and the agency that I would refer it to would have the authority to seek an arrest warrant and arrest any culpable individuals in this case.”