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Talk of the town: parents outraged by handling of rape paternity dispute

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HAMMOND - Many in Tangipahoa Parish are disappointed in the sheriff's office and the parish's family court judge for seemingly looking the other way when an alleged rapist was awarded custody and child support.

"For a judge to even give him full custody, that is unreal. He should've went and got more evidence to make sure that this child is safe, now you're putting this child into the hands of a predator," Latrice Dillon, a Tangipahoa resident, said.

People we spoke to say they are worried about what kind of message this situation sends to other sexual abuse victims.

"What's the point in them coming forward and saying anything?" Litisca said.

They say there's plenty of blame to go around, from the courthouse to the sheriff's office, which admits it botched the investigation in a statement.

Some described the message from the sheriff's office as victim-shaming.

"Yes, I do call it victim-shaming over there, because they said she didn't speak out, because she let this go on for so long," Litisca said.

The statement also says Crysta Abelseth did not follow up with investigators. It ended by reminding the public that filing a false police report is a crime.

"Once you do come out, you get victim-blamed. It sets us back as women," Litisca said.

WBRZ tried to speak with Sheriff Daniel Edwards about his statement, but his office was closed, nor did he appear to be home.

Parents are hoping Josh Barnes is criminally charged.


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