More on Tonya Craft Acquittal: 'It Wasn't a Victory'

Interviewed on NBC's Today show this morning, former Chickamauga, Georgia, kindergarten teacher Tonya Craft described her feelings upon being acquitted yesterday of molesting three girls after a five-week trial:

It wasn't a victory. There's nobody that wins in this situation. My whole heart has been taken, and I got half of it back. It won't be whole until I get my children back.

Craft lost custody of her two children, who now live with her ex-husband, after her arrest two years ago. Her daughter was one of the three girls who testified that Craft sexually abused them when they were 5 or 6. Regarding her daughter's testimony, Craft said:

That was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. It absolutely broke my heart to see that my daughter had been indoctrinated to say things that were not true. I sobbed.

Craft, who lost her job as well as her children after her arrest, had to raise $500,000 for her defense, which included hiring a Michigan lawyer/psychologist, Demosthenes Lorandos, with experience in cases involving false memories, who presented testimony from leading experts on child abuse. "I never thought I could be arrested for something I didn't do," Craft told NBC's Meredith Vieira. She said she wants to "make people aware that this can happen any time to anyone."

Lorandos told CBS News he plans to contact the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office about "fraudulent" behavior by Craft's prosecutors and Judge Brian House, who refused to recuse himself from the case despite the fact that he had represented one of Craft's ex-husbands in divorce proceedings. House seemed to favor the prosecution during the trial, eliciting repeated complaints from Lorandos that he was applying a double standard in responding to objections and ruling on the admissibility of evidence. CBS News notes that "prosecutor Chris Arnt also raised eyebrows when he posted on his Facebook page in January that Craft's defense lawyers 'are really insane or just trying to jack up her defense bill.'"

The interview with Craft can be viewed here. She is scheduled to appear on CNN's Larry King Live tonight.

Previous posts on the Craft case here.

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  • ||

    False child abuse allegations arising from a divorce? Say it ain't so!

    The only unusual thing about the Tonya Craft case is that the woman was the one who was falsely accused of abuse.

  • Paul||

    Like I said, she is now surrounded by people (children/other parents) who think she did it, but just got off on legal technicalities.

  • William||

    According to the websites of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and Chattanoogan.com (no direct link to poll), 95%+ of voters in each of their online polls believe the jury got it right.

  • ed||

    You shouldn't let that poll interfere with our cynical self-hate orgy.

  • ||

    Online polls are meaningless, since they draw disproportionately from people who have been following the case closely.

    The average person she has to deal with in the future is just going to know that she's been put on trial for molesting a bunch of girls, and got off somehow.

  • ||

    I've been following this case and you are, thankfully, mistaken. The whole community is with Tonya and knows it was a sham. Only the family's of the accusers, her ex-husband and clan, and a few of their minions are upset with the verdict.

  • ||

    Innocence: the ultimate technicality.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Her daughter was one of the three girls who testified that Craft sexually abused them when they were 5 or 6. Regarding her daughter's testimony, Craft said:

    They could only get 3 girls to testify and one of them had to be her daughter...LIVING WITH HER EX-HUSBAND!?! Jesus Christ, that makes me sick. That poor woman!

  • melman||

    it gets better than that: the judge was the divorce attorney for her ex-husband

  • ||

    I think it was a different ex-husband from the one who had custody of her daughter.

  • melman||

    yes, but a judge who had acted against her in a previous matter, especially something as ugly and personal as a divorce, should have recused himself from the case

  • Bob #2||

    Wait... her lawyer is named Demosthenes? Gods damn if that isn't a hilarious apt name for a lawyer/orator.

  • Bob #2||

    hilariously*

  • ||

    I was thinking just that. God damn, I'm naming my kid Demosthenes.

  • ||

    Wait... her lawyer is named Demosthenes? Gods damn if that isn't a hilarious apt name for a lawyer/orator.

    It's a greek name. (My cousin has the same name). He probably goes by Demos for short.

    As someone of greek decent, my name isn't really Tom. That's just the americanized version. Any professional/legal docs all have my real greek name (which is on my birth cert.) on them.

  • ||

    Or he's actually the older sister of Ender Wiggin.

    (wow, I'm a geek)

  • ||

    The prosecutor and judge get off scot free. No charges will ever be levelled against then and as our next SCOTUS member has helped ensure, they are not liable for damages under civil law, no matter how egregious their behavior was.

  • dennis||

    But didn't you read the pro-Arpaio messages in the other thread? Clearly since they behaved reprehensibly there will be consequences.

  • ||

    Any pro-Arapio nonsense I come across goes straight into the ignore and forget file.

    Did some cop fellating idiot or illegal immigration bedwetter say that if he was a criminal he'd already have been prosecuted?

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    Yes, a couple of them made that claim.

  • ||

    *sigh*

  • ||

    D-Lo has notified the FBI and other federal officials about the judge and prosecutors. Many in the community are tackling them as well as the CAC and the detectives.

  • ||

    "Judge Brian House, who refused to recuse himself from the case despite the fact that he had represented one of Craft's ex-husbands in divorce proceedings.

    Wait.....what? You have GOT to be kidding.

  • Attorney||

    I had the same reaction.

  • ||

    It was tainted from the beginning because of all the parents asking the wrong or leading questions. We're dealing with 5 year olds here. They are not aware of the consequences of stories they are telling. I had three daughters. We bathe them from babies, what parts are not touched. Should be all be on trial? I feel bad for all involved. No one won.

  • ||

    Can we just have a shout-out here for the jurors? They, at least, acted honorably.

  • ||

    Yeah, they got it right. Still I wonder, would they have reached the same verdict if Ms. Craft had a public defender instead of $500K for her defense?

    Where does she go to get her life back?

  • ||

    Absolutely not. They also would have reached a different verdict if Craft were unattractive or unintelligent. Put an overweight welfare mother with a below average IQ in the same situation and she goes to jail forever.

  • melman||

    or it would not have been media friendly with an overweight welfare mother, and the prosecutor would not have decided to try to make his career of such a shaky case

  • AJs||

    Or change the gender to a male...

  • Zeb||

    Yes, it is nice to know that you can still get a jury together that is not completely brain dead.

  • Coeus||

    Yeah, but it's rarer than steak tartar.

  • ||

    Are you kidding? I see steak tartar all over the place.

  • ||

    Steak tartar rare as in not cooked, not as in hard to find.

  • ||

    To be fair, in my one experience being on a jury, I was impressed with how much conscientious thought my fellow jurors put into the case.

  • TP||

    It's a good thing she was able to raise that $500,000 for lawyers and experts. Otherwise, she would have been stuck with a public defender pretender, and all they are good for is making deals.

  • melman||

    odds are she has not actually paid the full $500k yet, and is now in a deep deep financial hole

    still better than being in prison, and great advertising for the attorneys who helped get her acquitted

  • TP||

    Sometimes, with very high profile cases the attorneys will do it pro bono just for the exposure.

  • melman||

    i assume there will be a substantial discount due to the high profile of the case in the end, and the "$500k of legal costs" is there if they sue in civil court and try to recover their "expenses"

  • ||

    She should serve jail time for the hit that she should put out on her ex-husband who brainwashed her daughter.

  • ||

    No shit. Is there a lower form of life than that scumbag? If I were Craft's father, I would have had a hard time resisting the urge to put a bullet in his brain. I am also guessing this isn't the first scumbag thing he has ever done.

    Here is hoping Ms. Craft develops better taste in men.

  • &||

    Do you know the man? Just wondering.

  • ||

    No but thinking anyone who uses their daughter to make false sexual assault charges against their spouse is a scumbag is a pretty good bet. I didn't know Dick Nixon either. But, I still feel pretty confident that he wasn't a very moral guy.

  • &||

    How do you know they were false charges?

  • ||

    Well, the not-guilty verdict is a good sign. Further, the accounts of the testimony of the defense experts regarding the flaws in the techniques used to question the children is another sign.

    Having actually tried these cases as a prosecutor and having read the newspaper accounts of the trial, it is my judgment that these charges are more than likely completely false. The jury seemed to agree with me. Although it is possible that the jury concluded it likely she was guilty but not "beyond a reasonable doubt", that seems pretty unlikely in this case. Note, none of the victims are talking about a civil suit. And juries are very unlikely to acquit on charges like this if they think the person is probably guilty.

  • &||

    My point being: you didn't sit on the jury and you probably haven't read the testimony or transcripts. Your information is gleaned mostly from hearsay and public opinion. So you are not in a very good position to judge the merits of the case, nor are any of us here in the peanut gallery.

  • &||

    There's only one person who knows what happened (or didn't happen): Tonya Craft. The rest of us are blowing smoke. Not that smoke (and narcissism) doesn't power the blogs.

  • ||

    I think I am in a pretty good position to judge the merits of the case. Not as good as the jury. But not completely uninformed either. I used to do these cases. This one has all the markings of a false prosecution.

    First, one of the accusers was the woman's biological daughter. That almost never happens. People rarely molest their biological children. It is step kids who get molested. Second, the techniques used by the prosecution experts are classic cases of manipulating children to testify about abuse. In one case, they asked the girl 16 different times if she was abused. In another, the victim was in therapy for over ten months before they finally got her to accuse Craft of abuse.

    You can say "we just don't know enough" all you want. But I know bullshit when I see it.

  • ||

    & : The information observed by the jury was skewed by our legal system's balance of expediency and probative value, and as such, not even the jury could know exactly what happened. As such, according to your line of reasoning, the burden is on Ms. Craft to forever prove her innocence despite the verdict.

    This is not how our system works, and admittedly, the second we accept that the truth of her assertions is intermingled with the veracity of the "system", then we can truly never know anything that we didn't personally witness. If that were the case, there would be no such thing as a blog.

  • &||

    there would be no such thing as a blog

    The horrors!

  • ||

    I'm wondering: if the jury had returned a guilty verdict, would you be similarly critical of people opining that she was guilty?

  • ||

    Tulpa: I would be similarly critical if the jury returned an innocent verdict even though I personally thought she was guilty. Because we presume innocence and the penalties imposed by a guilty verdict are high, I have a double standard whereby innocent verdicts carry weight while guilty verdicts should be open to inquiry. This doesn't mean that the "penalties" for incorrectly calling a guilty person innocent are not also high, but I still come down on the side of presuming innocence.

  • ||

    During testimony it came out that ex-husband, Joal Henke, had cheated on her countless times. In one affair she went to the store with the kids, but went back to the house when she forgot something, only to discover him having sex with someone. There were many others. He hotly contested the divorce and custody but apparently when she brought in a tape of him having sex with a woman in the backyard, he quickly conceded to her full custody. When he took the kids for visitation, he would say to her "take a good look at your kids, it might be the last time you see them."

    A month before the allegations were lodged against her, she discovered and reported to authorities that her child told her Henke's new wife had been showering with the 6 year old and had the girl help her shave her pubic hair.

    Then, lo and behold, after Henke consulted with a few of Tonya's ex friends with an ax to grind, voila the allegations were now on her.

  • Old RPM Daddy||

    I didn't see it in the news stories I read; what role did her ex-husband play in all this?

  • Dave||

    The daughter that testified Tonya Craft was abusing her lived with the man. He had custody of the child beginning from the time of her arrest. His role in all this is that it is quite possible he was instrumental in shaping his young daughter's testimony.

  • Dave||

    In other words, he's a fucking scumbag douche.

  • AJs||

    He also spontaneously 'remembered' things while he was on the stand - and not just little things, but his wife getting some girl-on-girl action. Seems to me I would remember quite clearly (and often?) if my wife had some action going on with another woman. Not the sort of thing a man forgets and then remembers later about his wife.

    I believe her ex-husband is the one also who first suggested Tonya to have done such things. Ironically it was all within a short time after Tonya reported for improper behavior between her ex-husbands new wife (showering and shaving in the nude together).

    Her daughter did not remember the things she testified to and come to him (or anyone)... with her fathers help and lots of therapy she 'recovered' the lost memories long after the fact. In other words, they told her something bad happened even though she didn't remember anything bad ever happening - put her in heavy therapy to help her remember those bad things... ugly stuff

  • ||

    Yo, fuck prosecutor Chris Arnt and Judge Brian House. With a dull cheese grater.

  • ||

    So how did Craft pony up half a mill?

  • Dave||

    That we may never be privy to but it's likely that she didn't pay all up front. She *should* receive damage compensation for this whole ordeal, but the state has a nice shield protecting its minions.

  • AJs||

    I wonder how much of the county/states resources were SPENT trying to convict her? Add up the cost to pay all of the salaries of the ADAs, judge, baliffs, court utility/maintenance cost plus the payment for the states witnesses, and so on including the additional security it had to employ, etc. I am sure it would top the $500k that she spent trying to defend herself.

  • ||

    Her parents refinanced their home and sold stocks and such. They are now, from what I read, trying to come up with the 20k to purchase the transcripts to move forward with some potential legal action.

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