Louisiana father denies raping woman when she was 16 and says they met in a bar


‘It’s all lies’: Louisiana man accused of raping 16-year-old and impregnating her in 2005 says they had consensual sex after meeting in a bar where she used a fake ID – as he fights to keep custody of their now teenage daughter

  • John Barnes denies raping Crysta Abelseth in 2005 when she was 16 and he was 30 
  • The pair had sex after he gave her a ride home from a bar where he says she told people she was a college student 
  • Crysta became pregnant as a result of their encounter; their daughter is now 16 
  • Barnes says he won full custody of the girl because her mother had been allowing her to post sexually explicit videos on TikTok
  • He also alleges the mother allowed a ‘revolving door of men’ to sleep over in their home which confused the girl 
  • He has never been charged, despite Louisiana having statutory rape charges that apply to anyone under 17 

The Louisiana man accused of raping a 16-year-old in 2005 when he was 30 has spoken out to deny the woman’s claims as he fights to maintain custody of their now teenage daughter.

John Barnes, now 46, fathered a baby with Crysta Abelseth in 2005 when she was 16 and he was 30 after meeting in a bar. 

She has since accused him of rape, and has spoken publicly in recent weeks after a judge granted him sole custody of the girl. 

Louisiana has statutory rape laws which apply if the victim is under 17, regardless of whether or not they physically consented. 

Barnes has never been charged with rape or statutory rape, and he was recently awarded full custody of the couple’s daughter. 

In an interview this week, he said he thought Abelseth was an adult when they met because she was in a bar using a fake ID. 

‘It’s a lie. 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,’ he told FOX. 

Web designer and accused rapist John Barnes is seen outside his home in Hammond, Louisiana Thursday in exclusive DailyMail.com photos

Web designer and accused rapist John Barnes is seen outside his home in Hammond, Louisiana Thursday in exclusive DailyMail.com photos

Crysta Abelseth is shown with the daughter she had with Barnes in 2005. Crysta claims she was 16 at the time – one year under the legal age of consent in Louisiana – when she was allegedly raped. The girl is now 15 and in full custody of her father

Crysta Abelseth is shown with the daughter she had with Barnes in 2005. Crysta claims she was 16 at the time – one year under the legal age of consent in Louisiana – when she was allegedly raped. The girl is now 15 and in full custody of her father 

He also denied ever laying a hand on his daughter or drugging her – as the girl’s mother recently alleged – and claimed he was granted custody of her after her mother gave her a second, unrestricted cell phone which she used to post ‘sexually explicit videos on TikTok’. 

Abelseth alleged that he drugged and raped their daughter, claiming that is what he did to her when she was 16, and claiming that he was not charged because he was well-connected. 

‘All I have been trying to do is protect my daughter. 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,’ he said. 

It had been reported that Barnes won full custody because Abelseth gave the girl a cell phone but no further details were reported. 

Now, Barnes has shared more details of the messy paternity proceedings and legal battle that he and the girl’s mother have been locked in for years.

Barnes refused to respond to the shocking allegations made by his rape accuser when approached by DailyMail.com

Barnes refused to respond to the shocking allegations made by his rape accuser when approached by DailyMail.com

This is the newly-built home from where Barnes runs his digital business

This is the newly-built home from where Barnes runs his digital business

He says Abelseth created an unstable home for their daughter and allowed a ‘revolving door of men’ to sleepover in their house. 

He also said he only discovered he was the child’s father in 2011 when she was five, and that a different man’s name was on her birth certificate. 

That man was an ex-con who Abelseth visited in prison with her daughter, according to Barnes. 

DailyMail.com previously spotted website designer Barnes at his large, newly built house from where he runs his digital business in Hammond, Louisiana.

He came to the door but refused to respond to the shocking allegations made by  Abelseth. 

‘I know you have a hell of a story here, but I’m not saying anything more than my responses in the official court documents,’ he told DailyMail.com.

Earlier, the military veteran, who sports a heavily tattooed left arm, broke cover amid the furor of Abelseth’s claims to fetch mail from the box at the end of his driveway.

Exclusive DailyMail.com photos show him emerging from the house, tucked off a quiet road in the woods, and dragging on a cigarette as he strolled down the expansive gravel driveway, wearing shorts, a light blue t-shirt and flip flops.   

Two recent model pickup trucks were on the property, with one parked in the attached garage.

Barnes operates Gumbeaux Digital Branding from the home, financed with a $440,999 mortgage from the Veterans Administration, according to records.

On the company website he markets the business as ‘Web Design You Can Trust.’ 

‘The approach to each new project is individual, I treat every customer equally, regardless of the size of the company and its budget,’ he writes. 

Barnes boasts 25 plus years of experience with more than 175 successful projects. 

He says: ‘I will not rest until you are satisfied. It is as simple as that…. I have your back while you’re focused on growing your business.’

His LinkedIn profile says: ‘Gumbeaux Digital Branding is a veteran owned company.’ Abelseth, now 32, has accused Barnes of raping her 17 years ago after she accepted a ride home from him in Ponchatoula, a town of 6,000 people, 50 miles north of New Orleans.

She was 16 at the time, and he was 30. The age of consent in Louisiana is 17, meaning that even if she consented the act would be considered statutory rape: a felony punishable, by up to 10 years in prison.

The married mother-of-five told DailyMail.com Wednesday in an exclusive interview that she believes her attacker has avoided imprisonment, or even being charged, because of his status in the town as a contractor for the police. 

Ponchatoula police are among the clients of his graphic design company

‘He has openly threatened me, saying he is well connected in the justice system and in the courts,’ Abelseth told DailyMail.com.

Barnes was spotted strolling down the expansive gravel driveway, wearing shorts, a light blue t-shirt and flip flops

Barnes was spotted strolling down the expansive gravel driveway, wearing shorts, a light blue t-shirt and flip flops

He operates Gumbeaux Digital Branding from his property, financed with a $440,999 mortgage from the Veterans Administration, according to records

He operates Gumbeaux Digital Branding from his property, financed with a $440,999 mortgage from the Veterans Administration, according to records

Asked why he has escaped prosecution, Abelseth said the fault was ‘within the justice system’.

‘I think people can put two and two together,’ she added.

On February 25, Abelseth in court documents accused Barnes of sexually abusing their daughter.

‘Minor child contacted me (her mother) on February 23, 2022 with the suspicion that her father had drugged and sexually assaulted her two nights in a row,’ the court documents state.

Abelseth stated that the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans confirmed ‘evidence of forced entry congruent with sexual assault’.

In the papers, she states: ‘My daughter, minor child, was conceived as the product of the defendant raping me when I was a minor child of 16 years of age.

‘I suspect drugs were used by him to sedate me as I was unable to move while he raped me.

‘Now it is alleged that he has committed the same heinous crime on our 15-year-old daughter.’

On March 18, the allegations were dismissed by the court, which found that ‘medical evidence does not support allegations in petition’. 

Two days later, Abelseth also lost custody of her daughter, and has been forced to pay Barnes child support. 

She claims Barnes is also blocking their court-mandated daily phone calls.

The mom is said to have lost custody after giving her daughter a phone, which Barnes said the teenager was using to ‘sext’ her boyfriend and post sexually explicit TikToks.

Asked how the teenager is faring, Abelseth replied: ‘I don’t know.’

Crysta Abelseth, now 32, claims that John Barnes, now 46, raped her in 2005 after she accepted a ride home

John Barnes, 46, runs a graphic design firm in their hometown

Abelseth said that Barnes (right) is now blocking her from speaking to their daughter. The pair will meet in court on July 15

The mother filed this police report in 2015 alleging that she had been raped five years earlier

The mother filed this police report in 2015 alleging that she had been raped five years earlier 

But Barnes claims the girl’s mother told the child to invent the claims of sexual abuse, in a bid to have him arrested.

He claimed in court documents that Abelseth was allowing her to have sex with her boyfriend, and that the phone was being used for the pair to ‘sext’ each other.

He also complained that the child was taken to see a counselor without any need, and without his permission. 

The pair will next meet in court on July 15.

Abelseth’s saga began in 2005 when she went to the Pine Street bar, Ponchatoula Pub, with two of her friends, where the brother of one of her friends was hanging out. 

Barnes was friends with the brother, but Abelseth had never met him.

‘I did not know him,’ she said firmly.

The person who drove them to the bar later wanted to leave, and Barnes said he would drive Abelseth home instead. 

Her friends got lifts home with other people, leaving Abelseth and Barnes alone in his car.

LOUISIANA’S STATUTORY RAPE LAWS: ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 17 IS AUTOMATICALLY A VICTIM

Louisiana has statutory rape laws known as Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile which dictate that anyone under the age of 17 is automatically a victim if they have sex with an adult, regardless of whether or not they physically consented to it. 

The crime is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of $5,000. 

Not knowing whether the victim is under 17 at the time of the crime is not a defense.

It’s unclear why Barnes was never charged after staking claim to the child, and after DNA proved he was the father. 

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Abelseth said she was ‘highly intoxicated.’

‘John Barnes offered to take me home,’ Abelseth explained, in a later police report.

‘Instead of bringing me to my house, John Barnes brought me to his home.

‘He proceeded to rape me.’

Abelseth said she did not tell anyone – not her friends or parents – that she had been raped.

‘I felt people would shame me,’ she told DailyMail.com. 

‘They’d say, you shouldn’t be doing this, doing that.

‘They are shaming me now. But at this point, I don’t care.’

Abelseth said her family believed that her then-boyfriend was the father.

‘Everyone assumed he was,’ she said. ‘And he just wanted to be.’

Asked if he knew the circumstances, Abelseth replied: ‘I can’t speak to that.’

Despite the scary situation, she said she never considered terminating the pregnancy.

‘I was terrified, but never in any doubt,’ she said.

‘I guess the mothering instinct kicked in.’

For the first five years of her daughter’s life, Abelseth raised her child in peace.

She said she never saw Barnes again and managed to avoid crossing paths with him despite the pair of them living in the same small town.

‘The only time I ever came into the same vicinity as him was when this same friend I was in the bar with wanted to stop off in the bar, and say hi to her brother. And Barnes was with him.

‘Apparently he asked about me. But I have no idea what he said.’

In 2010, Abelseth’s world was turned upside down when Barnes learned he was the girl’s father.

How he found out, Abelseth said, she was ‘not 100 per cent sure.’

She added: ‘I couldn’t say.’

A paternity test later proved that the child was his.

Barnes then began legal proceedings, attempting to wrest custody of the girl from her mother.

‘He was bringing me to court two or three times a year – he was filing and filing,’ she said.

‘It was exhausting emotionally – I was dragged through the wringer. All those years of legal fees and debt.’

Barnes has nine hunting licenses in three states. He has not commented on Abelseth's allegations

Barnes has nine hunting licenses in three states. He has not commented on Abelseth’s allegations

Records obtained by WBRZ show that a DNA test proved Barnes was the father of the child

Records obtained by WBRZ show that a DNA test proved Barnes was the father of the child

On October 3, 2011 the court awarded the pair joint custody, but the fights over child support and raising the child continued. 

In January 2013, Abelseth filed court documents claiming Barnes had another custody case ongoing, as the result of fathering a child with Amiee Ball. 

Abelseth said that Ball filed domestic abuse charges against Barnes. 

Traumatized by the proceedings, Abelseth sought out a counselor, who told her that she was still within the statute of limitations to press charges – something she said she had not known.

‘I knew the gravity of the situation,’ she said. ‘And the court hearings made me relive it over and over again.

‘But I wanted justice. I wanted to see him behind bars.’

Judge Jeffrey Cashe (pictured) has forced Abelseth to pay child support to her alleged rapist, in what her advocates have branded an outrageous miscarriage of justice

Judge Jeffrey Cashe (pictured) has forced Abelseth to pay child support to her alleged rapist, in what her advocates have branded an outrageous miscarriage of justice

It remains unclear why Barnes was never charged.

Abelseth believes that the sexual assault report she filed against him with Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office has not been thoroughly investigated.

‘It was never assigned to a detective, and nothing was ever investigated,’ she alleged in an interview with her local TV station.

The sheriff’s department told WBRZ that the investigation into Abelseth’s claims was open and ongoing – but has not moved since 2015.

In April 2021 the teenager accused her father of hitting her in the face, amid the ongoing row about the cell phone.

Abelseth again filed a report at Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, but they concluded that there were ‘no marks or signs of distress’.

Sean Cassidy, an attorney with Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, told WBRZ he had never come across a case like this.

‘It seems pretty straight-forward that not only did a crime take place, but as a result of the crime, this person should not have custody of the child,’ he said.

Stacie Triche, an activist who set up the Save Lives organization, has helped Abelseth navigate the legal system.

‘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,’ she told WBRZ.

‘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.’

Triche told DailyMail.com she had been astonished by the ‘arrogance’ of Barnes, in demanding financial support from Abelseth.

Barnes was awarded joint custody in 2015; in March this year, he won full custody.

Abelseth said that he made ‘accusations against me’, but refused to elaborate.

‘They have not been tested in court,’ Triche said.

One of the reasons for losing custody, Abelseth said, was an allegation that the teenager had been given a cell phone without Barnes’s consent, and which he did not have access to.

He argued that it violated their agreement. But Triche said his claim was ‘a lie’.

Asked how the small, rural Louisiana community was reacting, Abelseth said that there had been ‘divided responses.’ 

Barnes, who has nine hunting licenses across Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi, was well known in the community.

‘His friends defend him,’ she said. ‘But for the most part, I don’t read the comments online.

‘Most people have been amazing.’

Asked what she would say to Barnes, if she saw him, Abelseth fell silent.

‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘He knows what he’s done.’

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