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How a rape survivor was ordered to pay child support; watch the Nakamoto documentary here

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AMITE - A custody battle in a small south Louisiana town made international headlines after the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed the mother was only 16 years old when she was impregnated by a 30-year-old man, and he was never prosecuted for a crime.

When WBRZ first spoke with Crysta Abelseth, now 32 years old, she was being forced to pay child support to her 16-year-old daughter's father, John Barnes, after he was granted full custody by Judge Jeffrey Cashe. 

Abelseth said Barnes brought her to his home and raped her after a night out drinking. Barnes first learned about his daughter in 2011, and he pursued custody after a DNA test with 99.97% accuracy showed he was the father.

Since Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto broke the story, WBRZ has obtained documents detailing more alleged abuse, and a judge has temporarily revoked Barnes' child custody pending a trial that is set to start in just two weeks.

Catch up on WBRZ's coverage below.

- Nakamoto first exposed the case June 12, 2022, kicking of a wave of international outcry

- A law enforcement watchdog requests a third-party review of Abelseth's case and why Barnes never faced charges for impregnating a 16-year-old.

- Another judge signs an order unsealing documents related to the case which had been kept from public view.

- Newly released court records reveal Barnes' daughter told a school counselor he abused her. Though documents show that counselor reported the abuse, it did not stop Judge Jeffrey Cashe from granting Barnes full custody.

- Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards releases a statement June 20, 2022 admitting his department "dropped the ball" when it didn't investigate Abelseth's rape report, which was filed in 2015. The sheriff's office has since reviewed that report and submitted its findings to local prosecutors.

- Judge Jeffrey Cashe temporarily revokes Barnes' custody amid the backlash. A trial is set for July 15 to determine who gets custody.


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