Crime

Tonya Craft's Alleged Victim Reports How She Remembered Abuse: 'My Momma Told Me'

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Yesterday I noted that testimony presented by prosecutors in the trial of Chickamauga, Georgia, kindergarten teacher Tonya Craft, who is accused of sexually abusing three little girls, strengthened the arguments of skeptics who say the case against her is built on fabrications and/or false recollections elicited by the authorities. Today the same witness, a 9-year-old girl reporting events that allegedly occured at Craft's house about four years ago, continued her testimony and raised more red flags. This account is from WRCB*, the NBC affiliate in Chattanooga (emphasis added):

Child says in video questioning [by a counselor at a crisis center] that Tonya Craft would not feed her. Child says in video, "I was scared to tell her to stop."

Child is asked if anything else happened. Video shows she shook her head no. Then interview[er] asks if Tonya Craft was mean in other ways. Interviewer continues to ask little girl if anything else happened in video.

Little girl tells interviewer she played "boyfriend-girlfriend game" with other alleged victim.

Child witness says Tonya Craft kissed her on neck. Child witness says in video she did not tell mom what Craft did.

Defense asks the girl on the stand: "Was that a mistake?" Girl: "I don't know."

Some of the evidence in the video appears to conflict with the child's testimony on the stand. When asked if she knows why, she said "I don't know."

Little girl says Tonya Craft turned up music in her car, rap music with bad words….

Child in video is asked whether there is anything else that happened to her.

Response: "I'm thinking."

Interviewer in video gets up and leaves. Comes back into shot and asks more questions.

Interviewer asks child how she knew something happened to her.

Girl says, "My momma told me."…

Girl says Tonya Craft told her she had to touch her or she would have to go home. She also said Tonya threatened her mother.

Girl says Craft would scrub her hard with washcloth during a bath, but doesn't tell interviewer in video that she was molested….

The counselor, on video, asks child 12 times so far if there is "anything else". The defense attorney asks child on stand if it helped her remember better. Girl: "I don't know."

Child said she went to get "pampered" at a spa after interview with woman [at] crisis center. After being "pampered" she is then interviewed by another woman at the center….

After first 3 visits with a counselor, child doesn't talk about any molestation. Meets with new counselor and said "she (Tonya) would touch me everywhere."…

Defense keeping track of girl's claims on a big board in courtroom with a marker. Girl says she reported sexual abuse after the video stopped, after being asked 16 times, because she forgot.

Counselor asked 16 times: Anything else? After videotaping stopped, on the way out the door, little girl said Tonya Craft molested her….

On video, the girl's top complaints [about] Tonya Craft [are] that she "touched her everywhere" (clothed), wanted girl to touch her back, made her turn off tv, didn't like pajamas Craft gave her to wear, couldn't play with Barbies at bedtime, and went to mow the lawn….

The girl saw a counselor once per month between June 2008 and April 2009. In the tape the girl referred to Tonya Craft as "the evil one."

On tape and ten months into the sessions, the girl told her counselor that Craft sexually abused her while in the bath tub. Girl describes bathtub as white. She says Craft would use her hands to violate her. The girls uses the word "privates" to describe body parts. She also tells counselor that Craft covered her mouth and told her not to say anything as she molested her.

Child says she was scared she would be in trouble with her mom if she told.

Yesterday, by contrast, the girl testified that she remained silent because Craft had threatened to kill her mother. The inconsistencies, the memory failures, the interviewers' refusal to take no for an answer, and the accounts that steadily evolve under the persistent questioning all suggest this girl was encouraged to remember things that did not happen. So does the weird equivalence between a horrifying crime and infractions such as limiting TV time, supplying unattractive pajamas, and taking away toys at bedtime.

This girl was the first prosecution witness and presumably the strongest. After she stepped down, the prosecutors began to present testimony about physical evidence of abuse. Judging from the opening arguments, the defense will argue that the physical evidence is ambiguous. A nurse who examined all three girls testified today that the results of the first exam were "very suspicious," the results of the second were "suspicious," and the results of the third were "normal." But it's not clear how definitive these findings are. WRCB reports that the second ("suspicious") exam "didn't show tears, bruising, abrasions, or swelling," although "tissue was missing that should be present in a kid her age." I'm assuming that's the reporter's delicate way of saying that the girl's hymen was not intact, which is by no means conclusive evidence of abuse.

If the physical evidence is indeed ambiguous and the rest of the prosecution's witnesses are no more convincing than the first, it's hard to see how the jurors can conclude that the state has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt—unless they are blinded by the very nature of the accusations, which is always a risk in cases like this one.

[*fixed]

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  1. This account is from WCRB…

    The call letters are actually WRCB. Being (tangentially) in the broadcasting industry, I guess I’m particularly pedantic when it comes to identifying stations.

  2. it’s hard to see how the jurors can conclude that the state has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt

    Pfft. They’re jurors. Guilty.

    What’s the action on counts? I won’t go in under fourteen and a half.

  3. This is so depressing.

  4. We all know juries would never convict if they are not convinced that the charges were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    1. I’m assuming this is snark.

      1. Name one criminal trial, just one , where a jury found the defendant guilty of a criminal charge in spite of the fact that guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

        1. Uh… Let’s start out here in our own Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit… Sam Parker… If you saw the evidence, you would know that yeah it can happen, and yeah, it did happen. I think Sam was guilty, but I do not for a minute think the prosecution proved their case. The jury was pressured to make a decision that only one day before was 2 for a guilty verdict, 9 against, and 1 undecided…

    2. Catoosa County is a very small county.
      Yes, there is a good possibility she could be convicted. Their court is a joke and is crooked!

  5. This wreaks of overzealous, ambitious goons out to make a name for themselves on a conviction.

    I recall living in Bakersfield, CA 25-30 years ago when this type of thing was almost literally happening on a daily basis. It affected my family directly. I linked it up on the other thread, but I cannot praise enough what the guys at the Innocence Project along with Sean Penn did – hopefully this story has a better ending. Support the Innocence Project: Witch Hunt Movie

    1. Good to know Penn has actually done something useful.

      1. Fairly certain this is the only useful thing he has ever done. Really, this was more the IJ more than anything, but Penn does deserve a hat tip.

    2. I was born and raised in Bakersfield – still liver here. Of course, we all remember this case because it rocked our community, which was much smaller back then. It is possible that in 15 years these kids will be racanting their stories, and purging their life of it. It happened here, it could happen anywhere. Fear and hatred are strong things that make people act irrationally. Jumping to conclusions and declaring someone guilty before they are proven innocent limits them to a fair trial. The parents here in Bakersfield who were accused of similar accounts spent MANY YEARS in Jail, only to be set free once the truth came out. (Thank you for “Mean Justice” Mr. Penn and Co.) I’m not saying children’s claims of sexual abuse should be ignored- NO WAY! However, its so important to approach ALL the facts, not just hearsay. I mean, look at some of the things this child (witness #1) was upset about… unattractive pj’s, toys taken at bedtime, not being fed, being scrubbed to hard in the bath, etc. Isn’t it ok to ask ourselves… “is this child possibly over exaggerating facts (i.e., Ms. Craft kissing her neck) because she was upset with her for those other things?” What if this child is spoiled rotten, and for that reason alone, rallied her friends to go along with her story, when in fact she was the true perpetrator all along (i.e. initiating and playing “boyfriend/girlfriend” with the other victim(s)). Some kids have overactive imaginations, and in fact, one of the victims is a child actress. Perhaps she was exposed to sex/molestation by other means due to her environment? As a parent, I can understand the alleged victims’ parent’s position. I would be furious, and feel guilty for letting it happen. However, when your child can’t provide clear answers when u ask them a ?, we have a tendency to pepper them with ?’s, or even push them, to get to the bottom of things. Its easy to blame their confusion of events on distress, or in this case, age and vocab limitations. However, what if the only thing that ever happened was unsatisfactory sleepovers? A bath not to her liking (i.e., being scrubbed too hard), meals not to her liking (i.e., not being fed), a bedtime not to her liking (i.e., having toys taken away and being given ugly pj’s). Its my opinion that the parents of children who come to them with these claims should really go to the source directly, and also take into account their child’s personality or habits… do they habitually lie, are they vindictive when they don’t get their way? Naturally, we have a tendency to protect our child, even when we suspect our child’s character flaws might be part of the problem. Could the victim’s overactive imagination combined with her dislike for Ms. Craft, cause her to make up the molestation accusations? Can the child even describe Ms. Craft’s “private parts” since she apparently masturbated in front of the victims? Ms. Craft was also “best friends” with one of the victim’s mothers, so I’m sure Ms. Craft was affectionate with her best friend’s daughter. I certainly treat my friends’ children as if they were my own. I wonder if Ms. Craft’s “best friend” even bothered to confront her directly about the molestation before going to the authorities? I sure as shit would if that was the case with one of my kids!! I can’t help but see the lopsidedness of this case – look at the defendant’s gag order and the sensationalism of the media’s reporting. The justice system was created to protect people. We as a society have an obligation to be objective in a case like this. I believe Ms. Craft has already suffered a miscarriage of justice by not getting the right to a fair trial. I really hope that she takes the witness stand in her own defense so she can finally share her side of the story.

      1. Amen. Well put.

  6. The charges should never have been brought against this woman in the first place. There simply was not enough evidence to support the charges. In a free society, the state has no business throwing shit up against the wall hoping for a conviction predicated upon hysteria regarding the nature of the charges.

    I emphasize the phrase, “in a free society” as some here tend to forget that, as friends of liberty, the urge to mete out justice to those who are charged with crimes must give way to the paramount interests of (1) the presumption of innocence and (2) the proposition that we would rather let 99 guilty walk instead of 1 innocent be convicted.

    Order is best maintained when we adhere to such bedrock principles of a free society. Some here will, of course, raise the spectre of vigilanteeism erupting if those alleged to have engaged in child molestation can not be prosecuted because of a lack of reliable evidence. A rational person, of course, rightly rejects such sophomoric claptrap as nothing more than RANK SPECULATION, unsupported by any empirical data whatsoever.

    However, assuming arguendo, that some folks will take things into their own hands upon learning that the state will not arrest and prosecute a person who is alleged to have touched some kid’s privates because the only evidence is the testimony of the 9 year old girl who claims that the babaysitter did the deed. Does that mean we shrink from our committment to liberty and decency? Does that mean that we sacrifice our most cherished ideals in order to appease the would be vigilantees?

    No doubt, I am sceptical of any child molestation or rape charge. I know human nature. The utopian is the person who thinks that an allegation of child molestation or rape, unaccompanied by eye-witnesses or reliable physical evidence, must be true as child molestors SOP is to get the “victim” alone and threaten some harm if they talk about their “secret.”

    There are just too many horror stories of innocent people being railroaded. Right here in Mass, we had the Amirault cases. In the Georgia case, we have the judge refusing to recuse himself notwithstanding the fact that he represented the accused’s husband in their divorce proceedings. This alone, imo, is enough to dismiss the charges against this poor woman.

    1. Assuming you’re referring to me, I actually agree on this particular case. It looks like the state’s evidence is pretty weak.

      What I was arguing against in the other thread was your assertion that all child molestation charges should be automatically dismissed, and others’ assertion that eyewitness testimony by children should be inadmissible.

      1. …and my assertion that vigilantism is superior to the “rule of law”.

    2. And I hate gotcha questions as much as anyone, but I’ll ask anyway: if it was your child who claimed to have been molested by an adult who got them alone, and your child gave clear testimony (not like the one in this case has given) that this had happened, without any coaching, and the charges were dismissed because well, there wasn’t any physical evidence, what would you do? Tell yourself that it was good for the cause of liberty and decency that the guy who stuck his penis in your child’s rectum gets off scot free, probably to go off and do it to someone else’s kid a short time later?

      1. Tulpa, of course, yes, I would be bullshit. If you think that I’m going to deny, for the sake of this argument, that I would not be outraged, you are mistaken.

        Would I think about taking matters into my own hands? Yes. I would be lying if I were to claim that I would never even think about it or that I would be above it all.

        You would agree that all of us, you and me included, are, in varying degrees, inlfuenced by our personal experiences? I have infinitely more personal knowledge, experience, etc. with brutal cops, petty regulators, rent seekers, dishonest, slimy prosecutors and false allegations of spousal assault and abuse and false allegations of sexual assault upon minors.

        I do know two people who are admitted didlers. One was a recreation director for my hometown city during the time of my youth. He was also a local radio newsman. A second was the son of an older woman who patronized a busines of which I was part owner. I visited the son in prison. He admitted that he was attracted to boys between 10-12. He was not a sodomizer. Flashing was his thing.

        Thus, I do admit that there are such sickos out there. Yes, I tend to think that the incidence of child molestation is exagerated by those who have an axe to grind.

        Look, rape is an assault. It is malum in se. It is just wrong. If A rapes B, A is a sub-human piece of filth. Sometimes I wonder why you post that I am OK with rape. I am not.

        1. Random note: The fact that you used the term malum in se makes me wibble.

          That is all.

        2. I never said you were morally OK with rape. But it seems you favor a legal regime that makes it usually impossible to prosecute rape or child molestation.

          I could understand a Steelers fan favoring a live and let live attitude towards rape, but not a Belichik lover.

          1. But it seems you favor a legal regime that makes it usually impossible to prosecute rape or child molestation.

            Our system of justice demands proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

            And it is a matter of fact that a child’s testimony by itself is not reliable enough.

            In fact, I am beginning to understand why the Roman Catholic Church, considered by some to be the one true church, shielded priests from accusations of child molestation.

            1. Once again proving yourself to be a truly disgusting creature. They have a job for you as the pope’s homilist.

              1. I am beginning to understand why the Roman Catholic Church, considered by some to be the one true church, shielded priests from accusations of child molestation.[emphasis mine]

                He never said he approved of the Church’s policy. I infer from Michael’s statement that the Church had a reasonable belief, due to all the negative press about these cases, that the priests would not get a fair trial. The Church is damned whatever happens, either settling or being found not guilty.

                That said, I do find it unusual for such a large amount of accusations against specific priests to be levied.

                1. Ah, so when Ratzinger was advising bishops to cover up the accusations “for the good of the Universal Church”, he was expressing concern about priests getting fair trials. And recall that yesterday, Ejercito went so far as to say we couldn’t blame the Church hierarchy for their actions, and that it was reasonable for them to assume all accusations of molestation were dubious. Couple that with his comments that this case casts doubt on all child molestation cases, and you have the loathsome tapestry of turpitude that is Ejercito.

                  But then, you know all this — you actually responded to Ejercito’s “blame” comment, so I’m surprised you’re still giving him the luxury of an alternative interpretation.

                  1. Michael Ejercito|4.14.10 @ 9:32PM|#

                    I wonder how this affects the credibility of child molestation accusations against Catholic priests.

                    Could we blame the Church for covering up accusations of child molestation against priests, especially after the whole debacle of innocent people being convicted for crimes that never happened ?

                    Groovus Maximus|4.14.10 @ 11:58PM|#

                    Actually, when the priests accused were relieved of the charge of one parish amid a scandal and sent to another, with subsequent accusations arising and not defrocking the priest, yeah I could. Is correlation causation? No. However, a case such as I mentioned increases the public hysteria.

                    You made an excellent point upthread about corroboration BTW.

                    Let’s go through this:

                    1) He is consistent in wondering if the accusations were credible, then and now.

                    2) He does apply this case to general accusations, admitting that innocents have gotten and do get convicted of non-existant crimes.

                    3) It follows that one could not reasonably blame the Church for wanting to protect it’s members from false accusation.

                    I replied, “yeah, I could.” Meaning because of public hysteria and mass accusations. Where I quibble is, when priests are sent from one parish to another, amid accusations in both parishes, then I wonder why. That is not giving him a pass. And it certainly does not imply that I approve of priests molesting children, which you never said nor implied. And neither did he for that matter.

                    Again, upthread MiEj, states “a child’s testimony by itself is not reliable enough” to preclude reasonable doubt.

                    That I agree with; it’s not enough.

                    That stands with my premise that an accusation these days is enough to damn one even before they get to trial. If you are wanting me to admit that I want children to be molested so no innocent person goes to jail, that is not the case. Nor do I want children to endure the heinous crime of sexual assault. I don’t want innocent people to go to jail either. Neither do you. But it appears that it’s ok for innocent people to go to jail to eradicate this type of crime, indeed the means are justified in jailing the innocent. That sir, I find just as abhorrent.

                    Incidentally, how has that worked out for preventing other serious crimes, like pre-meditated murder, battery and theft?

                    I thank you for the debate.

                    1. That stands with my premise that an accusation these days is enough to damn one even before they get to trial.

                      We need to change that.

                      Maybe making such a thing a criminal act will stop it.

                  2. And recall that yesterday, Ejercito went so far as to say we couldn’t blame the Church hierarchy for their actions, and that it was reasonable for them to assume all accusations of molestation were dubious.

                    Only the accusations dating from the late ’80’s and early ’90’s should be presumed dubious.

            2. I should add that I was raised Catholic, and while I no longer believe, still have a great deal of respect for the Church as — on the balance — a force for good in the world. But the way in which the molestation accusations were handled can at its most charitably be seen as a gigantic blotch on their record. Catholics who attempt to justify the Church’s actions in this matter are not helping the brand’s image one bit.

              1. I could understand the Church’s desire to protect priests from unfair accusations – if that’s what they were doing. The fact is the bishops protected these creeps within the Church as well, so molesters avoided even Church discipline.

        3. You admit that you would consider taking matters into your own hands if it were your child, yet you claim that the idea that vigilanteism will result from routinely letting child molesters off the hook in the judicial system is rank speculation with a capital R (and several other letters).

      2. I oppose vigilantism. Ive said before that I think the jury made a mistake in the end of A Time to Kill. He should have been found guilty. I also fully understand the way he acted and in the same situation would at least consider behaving the same way. And I still dont think a single eye-witness testimony without any physical evidence meets the reasonable doubt burden.

        I dont see anything contradictory in all of that either.

        1. This isn’t eyewitness testimony. This is the testimony of the alleged victim we’re talking about — a completely different thing.

          In an armed robbery trial, the testimony of a person who bumped into the robber as the robber was leaving the convenience store is going to be extremely questionable, true. The testimony of the clerk behind the counter who stood there and handed him all the money, all the cigarettes, and all the lottery tickets? Not so much.

          1. The testimony of the clerk behind the counter who stood there and handed him all the money, all the cigarettes, and all the lottery tickets? Not so much.

            Assuming the clerk is working in a modern convenience store, and we will assume female since the defendant in this article is female:

            Pro: There will be some kind of physical evidence, a la video tape of the robbery. Also, the clerk will most likely be an adult, making the testimony more credible. The girl, however, neglected to hit the panic button due to being scared out of her gourd. Police arrive and she is still in shock.

            Very plausible.

            Con: The possibility of an inside job. On the video, the robber was masked, was wearing unremarkable clothing, gloves and only the clerk and the robber are in the store at the time of the robbery. Also neglects to hit the button, huddles in corner, appearing frightened. Waits for time to expire, then hits panic button. Has rehearsed act and is quite convincing.

            Equally plausible.

            Even a case that should be clear cut, isn’t.

      3. If it was your child who claimed to have been molested by an adult who got them alone, and …

        I know this wasn’t directed at me, but I wanted to share my opinion anyway.

        I too would have the STRONG urge to mete out vigilante justice. I would hope though that I would be reasonable enough to think of the consequences though.

        Not only would my child have been molested and have to cope and recover from that regardless of whether the abuser were prosecuted, but now my child will have to live without their father after he gets thrown in jail for the vigilantism.

        Not a very good outcome for my child.

      4. And I hate gotcha questions as much as anyone, but I’ll ask anyway: if it was your child who claimed to have been molested by an adult who got them alone, and your child gave clear testimony (not like the one in this case has given) that this had happened, without any coaching, and the charges were dismissed because well, there wasn’t any physical evidence, what would you do? Tell yourself that it was good for the cause of liberty and decency that the guy who stuck his penis in your child’s rectum gets off scot free, probably to go off and do it to someone else’s kid a short time later?

        Our system of justice demands that the charges be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

        Child molesters tend to be repeat offenders. Why not just continue the investigation until corroborating photographic or physical evidence can be gathered?

        In this case, would it have been so difficult for the police to get a warrant to plant hidden and disguised recording devices in places where the suspect might be alone with children? How is it that I , with no experience investigating these kind of crimes, can think of this but seasoned detectives can not?

        1. How is it that I , with no experience investigating these kind of crimes, can think of this but seasoned detectives can not?

          They’re too busy killing innocent people’s dogs.

    3. However, assuming arguendo, that some folks will take things into their own hands upon learning that the state will not arrest and prosecute a person who is alleged to have touched some kid’s privates because the only evidence is the testimony of the 9 year old girl who claims that the babaysitter did the deed. Does that mean we shrink from our committment to liberty and decency? Does that mean that we sacrifice our most cherished ideals in order to appease the would be vigilantees?

      :
      Of course not.

      If those folks take the law into their own hands despite the nature of the evidence, then we visit vengeance upon them tenfold.

  7. Good points, Jacob. This is a very discouraging case because the evidence is obviously contrived. To the prosecution, it now is a “just win, baby” situation for them and nothing else.

    When prosecutors and police abandon any search for the truth and just fit their own narratives instead, this is what we get. Thanks for being willing to stand up for what is right.

    1. When prosecutors and police abandon any search for the truth and just fit their own narratives instead, this is what we get. Thanks for being willing to stand up for what is right.

      In cases like this the system pushes these types of actions.

      Most people don’t follow the case closely, and most local news only don’t do much in depth reporting, so the public at large basically perceives the situation as “prosecutor chooses not to prosecute child molester” — and then their political opponents make a huge issue and said prosecutor is out of a job.

      I am in no way endorsing this, just simply saying I understand why it happens this way.

  8. It’s the therepists. They are the common denomiator behind all these types of trials that feature recovered memories and suspicious recalls by a nine year old.

    It’s not to say that children are never molested but I’m always suspicious of these, going back to that horrible McMartin trial in the 80s (where the children described satanic rituals in the front yard).

    9 year olds don’t call it “privates”, they call it a pee-pee or V-Ja-Ja if they watch the View. That is coached testimony.

    We need to question authority and particularly the authorities that profess to be mental health experts.

    1. Ooh ooh: therapists = the rapists !

      1. This proves it!

        1. They’re the Psychlos!

          (L. Ron really did name them after psychologists, whom he hated)

    2. You might have noticed that kids pick up words by simply being around when adults are talking. It is how they learn language, after all.

    3. “9 year olds don’t call it “privates”, they call it a pee-pee or V-Ja-Ja if they watch the View. That is coached testimony.”

      That’s some damning evidence right there. Yup, I can’t think of a single time I’ve heard a nine year old say “privates.” V-jay-jay many times, privates, none.

      1. Probably because adults don’t usually talk about sexual matters around kids, so they just repeat the words other kids use or make up their own.

        If a kid goes to an adult with an allegation of abuse, he or she is going to start hearing adults talking about sex organs. And probably pick up the adult words for them.

        It may be the result of coaching, yes, but that’s not the only explanation.

        1. I taught mine the proper terms. I actually did this so that they wouldn’t be the ones giggling like idiots during frank conversations later in life about sexuality, responsibility and that.

          Now, in context of this… I am not even sure what that would mean.

          Admittedly, seeing my Dad facepalm bigtime whenever one of them mentions the proper term makes my day.

          1. I’m not a pediatrician, but I do support this. I do believe the sooner children use proper medical terminology for their anatomy, the easier it is to explain the difference between boys and girls, when they ask. Which they will. And kudos to you Steff for being the parent and making this choice. Unfortunately, many parents are just very uncomfortable with their own sexuality, or not comfortable discussing the subject because they think that the information will make them sex fiends later on.

          2. I’m not a pediatrician, but I do support this. I do believe the sooner children use proper medical terminology for their anatomy, the easier it is to explain the difference between boys and girls, when they ask. Which they will. And kudos to you Steff for being the parent and making this choice. Unfortunately, many parents are just very uncomfortable with their own sexuality, or not comfortable discussing the subject because they think that the information will make them sex fiends later on.

            1. I don’t know why that double posted

              1. I know eventually I’ll have to explain that to them, and it’ll help if they’re not snickering about it when I try. Thank you, very much.

                1. No problem. Also “them” is referring to children being educated, not the parents educating the children. But you groked that. 🙂 Grammar FAIL. Don’t know why I didn’t catch that as I typed. Been having a number of typos lately.

      2. No, the damning evidence is that some fucking psychiatrist is teling the girl what she remembers. After 16 times and with the video off, suddenly she remembers.
        If it’s a little girl that is testifying, I’d listen to her even if she said “privates”, but after the psych testifies, I’d have reasonable doubt. I don’t like them, I don’t trust them, they are fucked up.

      3. I was being sarcastic people!

      4. That really is the most stupidest comment. How old are you? 80 Children are taught the proper names for their privates these days.

    4. 9 year olds don’t call it “privates”, they call it a pee-pee or V-Ja-Ja if they watch the View. That is coached testimony.

      This is a rather ridiculous statement and assumption.

      1. Sorry if my erudition isn’t quite up the normal thoughtful, fully researched and intellectual H&R posts.

        With 3 kids, it doesn’t sound right to me.

        1. Hopefully your kids hadn’t been forced into situations where frank descriptions of genitalia are necessary, at least not at that early age.

        2. It could be 10 kids, but if they all had the same outlandish, nearly impossible, crazy story with no evidence, I would not be willing to ruin someone’s life over it. This supposedly happened when they were 5 years old and now recalling it when they are 9. At this point they are very likely remembering what their parents are telling them they remember.

          When children are repeatedly asked over and over, ‘anything else’ by adults, they have a tendency to want to please the adult and will continue to try to come up with something until they make the adult happy. Searching for that approving look when they ‘reveal’ something that has already been planted in their mind is a natural reaction for the children. Particularly in the Bakersfield cases which I am familiar with, nearly every child admitted much later that one reason they came up with and kept with their story was that they were wanting to make the adults happy – and being encouraged by saying that they would be helping to protect other children from anything bad happening to them. That is how they wound up with kids verifying each others crazy story such as taking part in ‘sacrificing babies’ yet none of them did any such thing (although they swore to the testimony on the stand). While I obviously cannot know with complete certainty is if this woman is innocent… I can tell you that there is far more than just reasonable doubt that she is guilty. The lack of evidence, the poor manner in which this girls have been interrogated and the constant changing story of the victims are too much to ruin this woman for the rest of her life.

  9. Apparently I woke up this morning and it’s 1987.

  10. This looks like really crappy ‘evidence’.
    What’s sad here is that it brings *all* child molestation cases into question.

  11. This looks like really crappy ‘evidence’.

    It is.

    What’s sad here is that it brings *all* child molestation cases into question.

    As it should.

    Were it not for the existence of kiddie porn, I would think that child molestation was a hoax.

    1. Were it not for the existence of kiddie porn, I would think that child molestation was a hoax.

      Your logic follows Michael, but medical science has shown this not to be the case.

  12. I am not a doctrinaire libertarian. I am interested in a society that is STABLE, first and foremost, with as much liberty as possible without threatening stability. Some of you seem to want your abstract philosophical principles implemented into law, and if the whole society falls to pieces two weeks later oh well.

    If the people see the justice system routinely dismissing child molestation cases for lack of eyewitness testimony or physical evidence, then people are going to start assuming that anyone even accused of molestation is guilty. Whereas if the judicial system takes these accusations and the testimony of alleged victims seriously, then people will have more trust that an acquitted defendant was probably not guilty.

    It’s the same logic that was behind the sex offender registry at first — it protects those accused of molestation even more than it protects children. How so? If Mrs. Crabapple, the local gossipmonger, tells your wife that your new neighbor Mr. Doohickey is actually a pederast just recently out of jail, you can look for him on the registry and when you don’t find him, reassure yourself and your wife that you don’t have a pedophile living next door, and that Mrs. Crabapple is full of shit as usual. Without the sex offender registry, Mr Doohickey would have little in the way of proving his innocence. Of course, the registry’s effectiveness has been destroyed by adding people guilty of totally unrelated crimes such as public urination or indecent exposure to it, but the principle was correct.

    1. If the people see the justice system routinely dismissing child molestation cases for lack of eyewitness testimony or physical evidence, then people are going to start assuming that anyone even accused of molestation is guilty.

      And that is any different how than the current status quo?

      In a similar vein Tulpa, you are a professor, are you not? Hypothetical: Let’s say you were in a position where you were alone with a pupil, female and considered physically attractive. For some reason, she is not doing well in the class and she is asking you for help. She employs a pity excuse and you inform her that excuse does not meet an extraordinary circumstance. She asks you for preferential treatment on the next exam, and you refuse, being an ethical professor. She then narrowly looks at you and says, “If you don’t do this for me, I will go to the Dean and say you said inappropriate things to me. You made ‘insinuations’.” There are no witnesses. Again, being the ethical professor, you refuse and excuse yourself immediately informing her you can no longer help her. She makes good on her threat.

      Who do you think the public is going to believe? By the way, how are those Duke Lacrosse Players doing? I wonder how many people think, “Hey, it was a wild party with a hooker. I’ll bet something bad happened!”

      Point is, all it takes is an accusation.

      1. Well if all we’re talking about is an accusation of sexual harrassment, it’s unlikely the public is going to have any involvement. A more lurid accusation that would catch the public’s attention would be impossible for her to level. To avoid the possibility of such things, under no circumstances will I ever meet with a student in a place where there are no other people around. If I am talking to a student one-on-one in my office, the door always stays open, and luckily it is on a heavily trafficked corridor.

        And the analogue of the position I’m arguing against in this thread would be that any sexual harassment complaint against a professor should be ignored unless there are other eyewitnesses, which is poppycock. The relevant authorities should investigate, and hopefully with my track record and extreme attention to the paper trail (I scan every page of every student’s homework and tests in my classes) it will be clear that the accusation is unfounded.

      2. Oh, and while the Duke lacrosse players almost certainly did not commit rape, they were idiots for getting themselves in that situation. Ditto for Big Ben Roethlisberger. “Innocent” guys who get accused of rape were almost always playing with fire, so to speak.

        1. “Innocent” guys who get accused of rape were almost always playing with fire, so to speak.

          Kinda hard to avoid that if you aren’t very selective. Lack of wealth does offer quite a bit of immunity however.

          1. It’s not hard to avoid inviting strippers to your wild drunken parties. Or being a 28-year-old NFL quarterback hanging out in a college bar taking girls to the bathroom one at a time.

            1. But it is hard to defend one’s self from bogus charges of child molestation if the child’s word is sacrosanct and always above reproach.
              And it’s kinda hard to avoid children as a kindergarten teacher.

              Again, my point is the accusation is enough to damage a career.

              The 28 year old quarterback was a dunce for engaging in his behavior, probably figuring his celebrity exempted him from from ill consequences, IMO. But then, the girls didn’t have to accompany him either.

        2. Very wise of you.

          When I meant the public, people talk; it is likely she would have told her friends. I purposefully left out of the hypothetical that she accused you of touching her; I figured you would not put yourself in that position. I would imagine the same answer given applies, and you have taken steps to avoid that proactively.

          I personally do not do examinations without a nurse present. Regardless of gender, unless they have specifically requested the nurse or MA to leave, and I do put in writing when they left. My charting is concise but relevant to whatever case I am handling. As they say “If it wasn’t charted, it didn’t happen”. And there is a very large paper trail in health care, especially in the clinical environment.

          Point is, even with extreme measures in place to protect both parties involved, the accusation itself can be damning. Especially in this electronic environment a la Facebook, MySpace, etc. Correct, “Dr. Teabagger”? Is it reasonable for the Kindergarten teacher to document every little thing she does, with each student one on one as it happens? Maybe that would have helped her in this case and avoid the situation entirely. Given the hostile Judge refusing to recuse himself, which is also a travesty, it probably would not have helped.

          You are correct about the sex offender registries, though I am at a loss of how to best balance the unrelated cases of drunk college doofuses taking a whiz outside from the serious cases of molestation the law is trying to prevent. They get lumped together and society assumes the worst, regardless if the investigating party is the state or a community.

          Agreed also about placing one’s self in a compromising situation, but then freedom does come with risks.

      3. Speaking of the Duke lacrosse team. Did you know that one of the accused was arrested for killing his girlfriend? He beat her to death. Don’t believe me, look it up.

  13. “it’s hard to see how the jurors can conclude that the state has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt”

    Um . . . Dude? I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention to our legal system lately but anymore if the police and prosecutor say it is so then that is already “proof beyond a resonable doubt”. (Unless the defendant is extremely wealthy or politically connected of course!)

  14. The 9 year old is a professional child actress and appeared in 2 movies involving child abuse!! Little strange wouldn’t you say

  15. The judge was the attorney for Tonya Craft’s ex-husband in their divorce case.

  16. A nurse who examined all three girls testified today that the results of the first exam were “very suspicious,” . . .

    Taking that at face value, it may support the claim that someone abused the kid, but it gives absolutely no indication as to who.

    The vast majority of abuse is by parents/family members. How about a scenario where her father abused her, and applied the usual psychological pressures to get her to implicate her teacher, who she hated anyway, if it ever came out?

    1. That wouldn’t surprise me.

      No matter what the outcome of this, its going to be difficult for Taft to recover financially and probably better start training for a new career even if she’s acquitted. *shiver* Children are timebombs, that’s for sure.

  17. How about some investigation into why there is no Wikipedia article on this case?

  18. These families have put stuff in these kids heads to try to convict a woman that has children of her own. I think the parents in this should be tried for poisioning there childrens minds and causing Tonya and her children the hurt that they will never get over, guilty or not.

  19. I know exactly how Tonya Craft feels and what she is going through. My son was convicted of 23 felony counts in Orange County, CA and is serving 15 years to life for playing with children’s feet. Yes, he is the ‘toe sucker’ from CA. One should read the testimonies of the boys who testified thanks to the prosecution. One used a word that he didn’t know the meaning of so of course the parents told him what to say. Most didn’t think anything about it but because they were told to testify, some stories are out of this world. Don’t know how the jury convicted him. The prosecution did interject the fact that they found child porn on his home PC and thousands of photos of boys. Dah – he has been a soccer coach for many years and in charge of taking photos for the City of Newport Beach. What else would you expect to see. He was definitely railroaded by the City of Newport Beach because someone thought the saw something. He was never alone with any (except 1) boy – always other children or adults present. He too has lost everything and his life is ruined and I live everyday with the fact that I couldn’t help him. Several jurors said that if they had known he would get such a long sentence that they wouldn’t have found him guilty!!! The PR that he received was so terrible and hurtful. The prosecution attorney is now a Judge – guess what she was after. None of the boys were touched on their private parts – only feet. My son loves children and has always felt like a big brother to all. Poor Tonya – I know how you feel. There needs to be different level of sexual abuse of children. Because my son of accused of those words – he never ever feel free in the USA. He will always be labeled! This is not right! He didn’t kipnap, kill or sexually assualt anyone!! Someone needs to help Tonya and my son.

    1. Godbless,I know 2 people that were taken to the cleaners just b/c of overzealous prosecuters.One was a police officer.His daughter (falsely)claimed sexual abuse and he got sent to the pen all b/c she was mad at him for punishment.Then she went to school and bragged about it and did he get out of jail??? NOPE!!!! They didn’t even look at the new evidence.

  20. Actually,

    The what the SANE nurse testified to was 3 completely intact hymen’s. No tearing, notches, inflammation or scarring. Her conclusion of “suspicious” (which is NOT an accurate conclusion for a SANE btw) was horse pucky. She based that soley on a “rolled and thickened edge”. Sadly for the SANE, that is a completely NORMAL finding in girls that age. I am a Forensic Nurse Examiner (fancy SANE). For her to have made this claim based on her examination was flatly ignorant.

    If you add in the interviewers, One, has no degree (but she is taking online classes and a couple seminars), One has a degree in Anthropology and a couple seminars (had only worked as an interviewer for 2 months) and one has a Masters.

    One child was interviewed FOUR times (and 10 months of counseling with a train wreck of a counselor) before saying there was abuse, and only said it OFF camera where the interviewer didn’t bother to document it in any way shape or form. Add to this the “therapist” who ignored a court order to have NO CONTACT order issued by another judge who deemed her to be “uncredible”, so that she could continue counseling these children. Oh ya, she doesn’t take notes she just types up session summaries from memory “later on”.

    If you look at the actual testimony from these “experts” who sat on the stand, giggled, shrugged their shoulders, rolled their eyes, gave sarcastic answers and when one was confronted by the defense as having asked leading questions in the interview responded with “so what”, look at what the prosecution has submitted as “physical evidence” (Sane testimony)… You have a conjured case.

    Let me pose this question to you all. Tonya Craft reported her Ex husbands wife for inappropriate behavior with Craft’s daughter. She was teaching the 6 year old girl how to shave her privates in the shower. Craft takes child to Dr. and has her examined for any signs of abuse (none). Amazingly, Craft is reported for sexual assault on a child by the BEST FRIEND of Ex husbands wife 2 weeks later. This child when interviewed THREE times takes 10 months (same wreck of a counselor) and 3 interviews to finally say, “I don’t remember, my daddy said she did.”

    Would you have extreme doubts about the veracity of these charges then?

  21. I think tonya is innocent and personally believe the “actor victim” and mother are full of shit

  22. Thank God this woman was vindicated and set free, but the accusations and the time stolen from her and her own children will remain forever. She has a long road to recovery. Sometimes our justice system makes us proud and other times – like this – it just plain makes me sick!

  23. As a former police officer I handled all kinds of calls including rape and child molestation. All I can say is that any investigator with three or four hundred cases under is belt is pretty good at spotting the genuine article from the ficticious stories, and yes, little girls sometimes make up stories for various reasons. The last one I dealt with concocted a story because she didn’t like being grounded for misbehaving. She thought she would get placed in a new foster home with more lax rules if she said she had been molested. Fortunately the detective had been around a while and suspected the accusations were false. His investigation revealed that the girl had done the same thing at a previous foster home. Otherwise the lives of two loving and caring people could have been destroyed. She was nine.

  24. OK, this is such an obviously cooked-up case that it shocks the conscience. To me, the worst part of this is that REAL cases of children who have really BEEN molested are not followed up properly and those kids’ REAL disclosures about REAL molesters are ignored. Then you get a travesty like THIS. What can people do to get rid of these corrupt officials who run our justice system? Have we reached the point where we’re all paralyzed so badly that we can’t dump the frauds and find some honest members of society to run our courts and halls of “justice”?

  25. I certainly HOPE these laws get looked at more closely. There are more innocent men,usually, who have been falsely accused because of the hysteria. The laws are so out of control and too few people seem to know or care. Youth who are put on the registry is the worst injustice. But there are SO many others who should not be, like the MAJORITY of people on there who are NOT DANGEROUS ! .But it is an amusing source for the curious and for nutjob vigilantes. What a disgrace this is. Taking one of the most extreme cases of harm to a child and applying the law to ANYONE who commits the slightest sexual behavior, such as urinating in public (and not trying to be seen but being seen), men who frequent an underage, post-pubescent prostitute who lied about her age, admits it was consensual , men downloading porn that happens to have an adolescent in the package looking sexual…most could care less how old she is because she doesn’t look 8 or 10. But these are men who would NOT be interested in a child. It SOUNDS terrible…to look at CHILD PORN so it sounds so much worse than what it is. (OR people download porn and don’t screen it to check ages and it even might have kids but that’s not what they were looking for). WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA ??? It’s like an obsession with sex and a hate for sex that appears to be driving these crazy crazy laws. And it is ruining lives, not just the mostly men it catches in it’s net, but their families and their children who suffer along with them. These laws got traction in the Bush administration and the drama-driven media, esp. FOX and opportunistic politicians and overzealous states attorneys.

  26. Few know/care that the sex offender laws are not protecting children one whit more. But they have hurt many, many men and a few women like Tonya who aren’t dangerous.The hysteria feeds false accusations. My son Ken’s story is one.But I’ve learned there are too many more.I’ve worked years in Child Protective Services on child sexual abuse cases&theres; another side to these stories. Because of a few heinous sex abuse cases by strangers, the laws now have MOSTLY men who are on the registries who aren’t dangerous, &especially; not to children. Few people believe a child would lie about sex. But, I saw cases of belligerent teens who lied to get back at a father or stepfather. And,an eight-year old girl lied about my mentally ill son. When she lied, this was suggested to her&encouraged; by two adult women who did not like my son’s looks or personality. Because of his illness, he was too friendly, too trusting w/people, he did not take care of his teeth& he had very bad acne. When this child lied, everyone listened. Now she has grown up,recanted, but few listen. She ended up giving a very strong deposition. This had much in it about how her grandmother & a nosy neighborhood watchperson gave her the idea because they didn’t like my son’s looks (he had very bad acne and teeth .Ken was/is phobic about dentists&had; severe acne Marian grew up in a family/neighborhood filled w/prostitution and drugs. She had 3 criminal uncles living with her. Her older sister, who my naive son was in love with, was a prostitute and drug addict. This girls’ mother was a prostitute/ drug addict.(now both dead of o’d’s) Lying was a way of life in this girls’ family/neighborhood.People bragged about putting people away by lying.In her deposition, Marian talked about trying to think about ways to get my son away from her sister; she was so jealous that he took this sister, who she was very close to, away from her.She said, her grandmother &the; other woman gave her the idea.She said if anyone ever asked her to take a lie detector test, she would;vetold the truth.She was scared of going to court. Ken’s lawyer,knew my son’s looks would hurt him made him believe that an Alford plea was his only option. The states’ attorney said my son looked “wierd” too &he; was so aggressive in going after my son that Ken’s first atty.said that she thought he “hates your son”. So, an attractive but lying child looked innocent &an; unattractive but innocent man took a plea because it seemed there was no choice. Everyone listened when the girl lied. Few care now that she is finally telling the truth. My son has always been a gentle, good person who was taken advantage of by others because of his naivet?’ about people. http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=1492212 help us change the laws: http://www.reformsexoffenderlaws.org/

  27. The child victim’s comment “Girl says, “My momma told me.”…is clearly indicative of coaching. The coached or scripted statement activated the child’s recognition memory trumping her autobiographical free recall memory. That said, the child did not make a spontaneous or contemporaneous outcry which the case law clearly requires for a fact-finder (Judge or Jury) to deem the child credible. If the child is not credible, in any case of criminally charged child victim hearsay, the jury must acquit the defendant.

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