Crime

Tonya Craft Trial Update: 'Mom Said I Could Get a Toy If I Talked to You'

|

On Friday, two more girls, including Tonya Craft's 8-year-old daughter, testified that the former Chickamauga, Georgia, teacher had sexually abused them. The daughter, who used to live with Craft, is now in the custody of Craft's ex-husband. Other local news outlets have joined WRCB, the Chattanooga TV station that has been providing the most detailed trial coverage so far, in highlighting the gaps and inconsistencies in the testimony of Craft's three alleged victims, who in addition to her daughter include two girls who say she molested them during sleepovers at her house. Here is a report from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Conflicting details emerged Friday in testimony from two child witnesses in Tonya Craft's trial on child molestation charges.

An attorney for Ms. Craft asked the 8-year-old girls to explain why their answers in earlier interviews with investigators and social workers were different from what they said Friday on the witness stand.

Each responded with a similar statement: "I didn't remember" or "I don't know."

Here is The Chattanoogan:

As with the first young witness who testified on [Wednesday and Thursday], the latest young witness peppered her testimony with "I just remembered," and "I don't know," or "I don't remember." The only difference was that this witness used them with the prosecution, as well as the defense.

WRCB:

The answers from the girls sometimes differed from their answers in earlier taped interviews with investigators and social counselors. The girls would explain the differences with responses like "I don't remember."

The inconsistencies were not trivial. The second alleged victim, for example, told investigators Craft had touched her outside her clothing, while on Friday she said it was underneath her clothing. The same girl told investigators she did not report the alleged abuse because Craft told her not to; on Friday she said she remained silent because Craft threatened to "hurt my mom and dad." (This shifting story is similar to the evolving account of the first child witness, who initially said she remained silent because she thought she would get in trouble with her parents but later "remembered" that Craft had threatened to kill her mother.) The second child witness also was inconsistent about how many times she had been at Craft's house:

Defense Attorney: You've told us that you've been over to Miss Tonya's house several times, but this morning you told us it was only once. Why is that?

Witness: I just remembered.

Another point that has been difficult to pin down is approximately (let alone exactly) when these alleged incidents of abuse are supposed to have taken place. The indictments cover a six-year period, from 2002 to 2008. Craft's defense attorney labored mightily to narrow this window down during his questioning of Craft's daughter. "I can't remember when it happened," she exclaimed at one point. "I just know it happened." Finally, after using photographs of herself at different ages to refresh her memory of the time frame, she agreed that the incidents must have occurred between April 2007 and May 2008.

In previous posts, I've noted indications that the first child witness was encouraged to report abuse, whether or not it actually happened. On Friday the defense showed videos of interviews with the other two girls that provided more evidence of coaching (emphasis added):

Before the interview was over, the girl [the second child witness] told the detective, "Mom said I could get a toy if I talked to you." "She didn't tell you you could get a toy for just coming to me, did she?" "Yes, she did." After several more attempts to get the girl to tell him, that she was getting the toy for telling the truth, she finally responded affirmatively.

Video of an interview with Craft's daughter also suggests adults were determined to elicit allegations against Craft (emphasis added):

In the video, the child remained calm and didn't say Ms. Craft touched her inappropriately, but she started to cry after she was asked about another girl who is not one of the alleged victims.

"Don't ask me," the girl cried, and covered her ears and face.

On the video, the social worker left the room and re-entered, then asked the child directly how Ms. Craft had touched her inappropriately. The image shows the girl became completely flustered and said, "I don't want to talk."

In that first exchange, judging from Friday's questioning, the girl was upset about allegations that she had played "the boyfriend/girlfriend game" with her friends, which reportedly involved putting their hands down each other's pants. In the second exchange, it seems the social worker, not the girl, first raised the idea that Craft had touched her inappropriately.

NEXT: Celebrate (Read: Develop Ulcers) Remember Tax Day With Reason.tv!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Good morning Reason

    1. Hi PM! It was morning where you were?

  2. I fear that Tonya Craft will be convicted on woefully insufficient evidence.

    I’m a middle aged male. If I see a child alone and crying but in no immediate physical danger I will not come to their aid. I’ll call the cops anonymously, tempering my moral obligation with an all too justifiable sense of self preservation.

    No, I will not babysit your children. No, I will not watch them at the apartment complex pool. No, I will not drive them anywhere. No, they can not come into my house for any reason whatsoever.

    All because ss a society we have substituted child molesters for witches with no shortage of volunteers to assume the Cotton Mather role.

    1. Needless to say, volunteering as a Litle League coach or Boy Scout leader is out of the question.

      1. That’s depressing as hell to read as an Eagle Scout because you’re right.

      2. That’s depressing as hell to read as an Eagle Scout because you’re right.

    2. I’m also a middle aged male. My standard reply to watch anyones kids is that I’ll gladly watch them once they have been through bartending school.

    3. Who knows, maybe we’ll be positively surprised. But probabaly not.

    4. Millions of middle-age men interact with other peoples’ children every day. Very few of them are accused of child molestation.

      You’re taking a much greater risk by riding in a car than you are by volunteering as a Boy Scout master.

      1. I have zero risk of molesting an automobile or a child. I doubt anyone is going to falsely accuse me of the former.

        1. That’s a cum hock fallacy.

      2. Millions drive drunk every day without getting arrested as well.

        I’m not going to try that one either. They ain’t mu kids, society is batshit insane and I ain’t gonna stick my neck out.

      3. Because the car causes global warming, right, Forrest?

      4. i’d rather face the certainty of car wreck physics killing me than the vagueness of the law ruining my life.

    5. Damn you J sub D, I was hoping to bring up the ‘witch’ line.

      BURN HER!!!!

    6. All because ss a society

      1. The SS was once part of society…

      2. I think what he/she meant to say was:
        All because,’as’ a society …..

    7. A colleague of mine had to go as far as to either video or audio record every instance of being near a child alone, which meant his bi-weekend visits with his own offspring were, to say the least, not very productive.

    8. I fear that Tonya Craft will be convicted on woefully insufficient evidence.

      Why would the jury convict on woefully insufficient evidence?

      1. Because the judge in this case has a great conflict of interest but refused to step down. He allows what evidence he wants in and he’s definitely pro prosecution! Read the blogs on Truth for Tonya on facebook…it’s unbelievable what they are doing to this woman!

    9. Sad, but true. Men (& even women) have to protect themselves from allegations these days. I am a mother & a pediatric nurse & have worked with abused children. It happens & it is the most awful thing – I hope there is a special place in Hell for those who harm children – but there is not a child molester lurking under every bed like the media leads us to believe.

  3. Adam Sandler has a good bit in Funny People about being afraid of appearing like he is avoiding looking at a child for fear that someone might think “I can’t help it, if I look at the kid, I’m gonna have to suck his cock.”

  4. I’m sure the social workers took the “I don’t want to talk” as a sure indication that the molestations had occurred.

    Slightly on-topic anecdote:

    My campus residential life office held a mandatory “warning signs” meeting where they explained how to tell if a student is going to go postal. One indicator was “inappropriate affect, like laughing at a family member’s death.”

    I laughed. I had just returned from my grandfather’s funeral. His name was Jack, and my nine-year-old niece had commented at the viewing: “Look, Grandpa Jack-in-the-box!” We all had a good laugh because Grandpa Jack would have thought it was funny as well.

    After I told that story, the state worker at the meeting said, “Well, laughter can also be a healthy coping mechanism.”

    Um, so if it can be healthy or a sign that someone is about to go psycho, how do we know which is which?

    The same in this case. I’m a parent, and my children “don’t want to talk” for any number of reasons – usually for one that I don’t expect. But I wouldn’t be surprised if these workers had been trained to view such behaviors as suspicious.

    1. Um, so if it can be healthy or a sign that someone is about to go psycho, how do we know which is which?

      You probably can’t tell, but a social worker with years of intense training can. Just because you can’t tell what’s wrong with a collapsed person just by listening to their pulse doesn’t mean the medical profession is bunk.

      1. Like the ones who interviewed Phillip Garrido?

      2. You’re trolling, right?

        1. Unfortunately, no.

          1. I figger it’s a 50/50 chance as only a troll or an idiot would be using the professionalism of social workers to butress an argument.

            1. Relative to cops, what do you figger Scalia?

              1. Liar. Possibly idiot.

      3. Medical FAIL.

        A pulse is a sign, something that can be measured against an absolute standard and is falsifiable.

        What you are talking about is a symptom, and is subjective.

        Symptoms, especially regarding mental illness, are dependent on the patient and are essentially proving a negative, therefore are not falsifiable.

        Example, if a child has learned by five or six years old to cry at will and she cries because she is uncomfortable with a particular question, the crying does not prove the truth value of the question.

      4. Sorry, I’ve worked with social workers in a professional setting and they’re the most useless creatures on earth.

        1. Ditto, ITOW. Finding an objective one is key. I won’t apply a broad brush, but > = 90% of them have agenda that clouds objectivity.

          1. I’ve met exactly five social workers in my lifetime, four of whom were female.

            Guess which gender had the most problems* with the other gender.

            *Read: abject disgust with.

      5. Give-away: “years of intense training”

        1. Forrest is not a troll. He actually believes this shit.

          1. How upsetting it must be for a social nihilist to be confronted with someone who believes in the good of society.

            1. You got that right, Forrest! Only through the power of Government, can good be done for society.

        2. If you knew what we had to go through to even get a degree, you wouldn’t say that. You wouldn’t last a semester in a social work degree program, bub.

          1. Funny, I did a year in a social work program. For the most part it was filled with football and baseball players who couldn’t handle the stress of a communications degree. The “good of society” wasn’t stressed as much as the “gain power and money for the department of human services” part of the profession.

          2. Hmm, I have some college degrees myself, and in my very objective opinion, social workers are the folks who couldn’t make it as education majors.
            I also have a one-year certificate in automotive technology, and you wouldn’t last a week in “Basic Internal Combustion Engines”. It had, like, math ‘n stuff.

            1. That’s not one of the stronger programs. Also it gets a lot harder if you get the MSW degree that’s needed for a lot of jobs.

              1. Fair enough. I only picked U of Mo because they were kind enough to have an online course list. After some quick searching, the University of Michigan and Washington University in St.Louis appear to have the top MSW programs. And their curricula don’t appear dramatically different from other schools, nor particularly intmidating. I doubt that difficulty would keep the H&R regulars away from the degree.

                As to H&R regulars not lasting a semester, I’m willing to grant that on different grounds and after further reflection. I don’t think the mental wiring is in place for most everyone here to tolerate a program that includes courses on social justice.

                1. That’s just the course work…you also have to do the field work, which is grueling in its own way. The people you have to help are people who don’t want to be helped, so you have to do a lot of emotional and interaction labor. A lot of young idealists who want to save their fellow man start out on social work degrees, but it’s only the hard nosed realists like me who can finish it through. The lazy or uncaring social workers that you may have run into are probably the ones who just get so burned out and cynical from what they deal with every day.

                  1. The people you have to help are people who don’t want to be helped,…

                    Um…no. Too easy.

          3. Now THAT’S funny.

          4. “You wouldn’t last a semester in a social work degree program, bub.”

            All I can say to that is…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, the humanity.

            I’ll have to make do with my MBA.

  5. If the local outlets are skeptical, it gives me a certain degree of hope this won’t be a rail-roading.

  6. Would we even be looking at the case if the teacher was a male?

      1. We had a case here in Michigan where a male elementary school teacher was charged with molestation and the media got skeptical only after he was convicted and won a new trial on appeal.

        Here is a quick and dirty summary of the case.

        1. Isn’t “non-erotic pornography” an oxymoron?

          1. Yes, much like “grueling social work degree program”

  7. The conflicting details listed in this post are just a small sampling of the many testified to AND within the multitude of videos of them being interviewed before alleged crimes were reported.

    Another problem with the times they were at “Miss Tonya’s house” is that the initial two girls were mainly there when parties or celebrations took place with other children and parents present, at least until those parents left them to spend the night a time or two. The third girl is Tonya’s daughter, who has told that she showers with her step mom and is learning to shave (who the step mom is brings more questions into play in that custody battle!).

    My thoughts on that “Don’t ask me”, when I had first read it before was that there was some problems between the parent’s of the alleged victims and the parents of those the defense wants to testify NOTHING happened. A problem arising here is that the prosecutors hope to suppress such testimony, using the rape shield law and Judge House, again!

    Think about this. If the parents that wish to allow their children to testify to NOTHING have upset those going after Tonya, there would be comments in their homes the children would pick up on. Therefore, any children testifying something happened would learn to not want to talk about those in which the parents in their homes openly disapproved of – “Don’t ask me…”

    For any not up on the “expert” testimony or what that expert evidence was, the testimony of both the SANE Nurse and the doctor oversees her, described a condition they classified as not being NORMAL. Of the 3 alleged victims, the most incriminating testimony given for any of them was as follows;

    “…Her hymen was crescent shaped with the edges thickened and raw with some erosion of tissue. There were no tears or swelling to the hymen that day. Her anal area appeared normal. Her hymen did appear ABNORMAL and consistent with sexual abuse. I saw her results as “very suspicious” for sexual abuse.” (note the “ABNORMAL” )

    In response to this, the defense attorney quizzed the SANE nurse as to what NORMAL was and then questioned the rather inexperienced doctor – the one who had signed off on the Nurse’s SANE report as that Nurse must have done to complete that report – about her knowledge of what NORMAL was. After answers all resulting in it being what they’ve seen through experience… he pointed out what the medical professionals find as being NORMAL;

    “… according to the Journal of Pediatrics, asymmetric, rolled and thickened hymens are found in normal girls. He said 53.8 percent of girls examined in the frog-leg position show rolled and thickened edges and that estrogen amounts can change the shape and condition of the hymen.”

    So the outcome of the testimony by the state’s experts is that it was revealed neither are experts, they ban ONLY provide a guess as to what NORMAL may be. It actually showed the jury that the SANE Nurse has an agenda which interferes with her profession and the doctor is in no way qualified for the position she holds.

    PLEASE feel free to share this with as many as you can, especially in comments you may leave where other readers will see it.

    1. You want abnormal?

      The third girl is Tonya’s daughter, who has told that she showers with her step mom and is learning to shave

      A girl growing a beard, that’s abnormal!

      1. The poor girl could have hirsutism. It’s certainly unusual. Why didn’t the nurse note this in her head to toe exam?

        1. She’s learning to shave her step-moms pubic hair…

  8. The framers wanted it to be nearly impossible for the state to convict. They were all too familiar with the inherently more evil compostion of those who would carry caesar’s jockstrap hoping to sample the crown’s jewels.

    1. It’s funny that the framers agreed with Libertymike on every issue, even issues such as the standard of proof for conviction that they didn’t bother to opine on in the Constitution.

      1. It’s funny that the framers agreed with Libertymike on every issue, even issues such as the standard of proof for conviction that they didn’t bother to opine on in the Constitution.

        Do you have a problem with the standard for proof?

      2. ^ Funny dude, he is.

  9. Why no “Laura Craft” snarks yet?

    1. Who the heck is Laura Craft?
      Maybe you mean Lara Croft? In which case I suggest there haven’t been any “snarks” yet because people with smarts know it’s Croft, not Craft.

  10. Wow that is truly amazing. Sounds like a big ole witch hunt to me dude.

    Lou
    http://www.cops-r-watching.es.tc

  11. Sounds like a big ole Witch Hunt to me by prosecutors.

    Lou
    http://www.cops-r-watching.es.tc

  12. a sad case, especially as it looks like her own daughter’s testimony against her as well will put her away

  13. I am friends with one of Tonya’s friends….She says that Tonya noticed signs that her daughter had been abused. She made an appointment with a doctor and before she could have her daughter examined all hell broke loose. I guess her ex-husband found out that he was about to be the object of scrutiny, and to safe his own neck, decided to beat her to the punch. Sad…because Tonya is a honorable lady from what I hear. As for her husband…He was always known as “home wrecker” at the bars he frequented. A reeeal classy guy….

  14. This is exactly why I am glad I no longer teach in the classroom. Both children and parents can often be dissatisfied with a teacher and they make up horrific stories to get even. Sounds to me as if the parents and the law enforcement are coaching these kids: I pray she will not be found guilty for something she never did.

  15. is so sad, everibody convict the kids already and defend the teacher .I don’t know if happen o not but my right is to believe on those kids and left the jury to decide the truth, I was sexually abuse 25 years ago and believe me most the time when i was a kid i did not want to talk abouth it, was to hard for me , no body understend the mind of a kid and becuase that some people did not believe on me, but 25years latter i still remember, is just i rather not to talk abouth , i’m still whit bad dreams abouth it and i’m horrorized how people already think abouth them like liers and the teacher the victim ,when could be the other side, that is why kids like me rather not to talk abouth this.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.