A Louisiana sheriff admits his office “absolutely dropped the ball” in a 2005 rape claim that was never investigated — a screw-up that gave the rapist partial custody of the child that resulted from the alleged attack.
Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards said his department recently discovered that Crysta Abelseth’s complaint of being raped — which was filed in 2015 a decade after the alleged attack — never got properly assigned to be investigated, WBRZ reported.
Against her wishes, the alleged rapist currently shares custody of a child conceived during the incident.
“Our department absolutely dropped the ball, and we simply must own our mistake,” Edwards said in a statement Thursday.
“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 victim found some satisfaction in the admission.
“Them admitting it is a big step forward at least, so we have that going for us,” Abelseth told News Nation Now.
The case has been turned over to the district attorney’s office, which will decide whether to pursue charges.
Abelseth previously told WBRZ that she was raped at 16 years old when a man nearly twice her age 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,” Abelseth said about John Barnes, who was 30 at the time. “Once inside, he raped me on his living room couch.”
The teen became pregnant and had a daughter, who is now a teenager herself.
When the girl was 5, Barnes reportedly found out he was the dad through a DNA test and was able to convince a judge to award 50/50 custody to him and Abelseth.
Abelseth filed rape charges against Barnes in 2015 after she found out it was within Louisiana’s statute of limitations.