Cashe gave Barnes, 46, full custody of the girl on March 21, 2022, despite allegations made by a child that Barnes had been sexually, physically and verbally abusive.
Those allegations were first brought to the state’s Department of Children and Family Services by a school counselor. Barnes has not been charged with a crime in connection with those allegations.
“I just want my daughter home safe and my perpetrator out of our lives for good,” Abelseth tells the outlet. “My quality of life has suffered tremendously and it has bankrupted me financially. It is my faith in God that has kept me strong for my daughter because this is truly more than anyone should ever have to endure.”
The court document, which include DNA test results, which confirm that Barnes is the biological father of Abelseth’s daughter. Abelseth got pregnant when she was 16 and Barnes was 30, which means the encounter, even if consensual, would have amounted to statutory rape. In Louisiana in 2005, the age of consent was 17, as it is today.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission, a corruption watchdog group, has asked that an outside agency investigate the ruling, according to WBRZ.
Sean Cassidy, who is an attorney for the non-profit Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, tells PEOPLE he finds Cashe’s decision “awfully baffling,” given the allegations. “I don’t know how something like this happens,” Cassidy says.
While WBRZ reports that Barnes owns a web company called Gumbeaux Digital Branding that counts the Ponchatoula Police as a client. For context, Abelseth alleges Barnes raped her in Ponchatoula.
“I have seen some bad decisions. I’ve seen some indifference by law enforcement. I’ve seen what looks like bias from some judges,” Cassidy continues.
“But I have never seen the father of a child born out of a rape not only be awarded custody and some sort of payment, but also, that person even seeking custody. It is not something you see.”
Donations are being accepted here to help Abelseth with her growing legal costs.