Today on Tonya Craft


This morning NBC's Today show ran a seven-minute story about the Tonya Craft child molestation trial in Georgia. The piece, which notes skeptical blogging about the charges against Craft by Bill Anderson and me, is quite balanced, especially compared to some local TV coverage of the case (which Anderson criticizes here and here). The report calls Craft a "beloved" kindergarten teacher, features footage from an interview she gave a local TV station (before the judge overseeing the trial imposed a gag order), notes that she has many local supporters, cites some of the evidence suggesting that Craft's accusers were coached, and mentions that the physical evidence is equivocal at best. You can watch it here.

Skeptics in the local media include Kevin West, news director of the Chattanooga radio station WGOW, who explains here why he decided this was not "just another child molestation case." I think journalists did learn something from the McMartin Preschool case and similar molestation panics in which the lives of innocent people were wrecked by children's false memories. The lesson is not that children always lie or that accused molestors are never guilty but that defendants in these cases deserve the same presumption of innocence as defendants in other criminal cases. Overcoming that presumption requires something more than the inconsistent, constantly changing, and often implausible testimony of little children recalling events from several years ago under the prodding of adults who are convinced the defendant is guilty.

Go here for links to my previous posts on the case.