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.

NEXT: How Many More Are Innocent?

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    1. pretty has nothing to do with it. the prosecution has no real evidence other than what sounds like coached testimonies from these girls. which the primary accuser in the case portrayed a young rape victim in a movie prior to the accusations. not to mention the conflict of interest of the presiding judge, who handled the case for Tonya craft’s divorce to her ex-husband, and the fact that her ex-brother-in-law is on the jury. it’s nothing but a “good ole’ boy” set-up. and i would be willing to bet that the primary accusers family has the judge and prosecution team in their pockets.

      overall my opinion, rich bi*&h becomes upset and goes after Tonya with no real plan or evidence to back it up.

      read all of the material and actually follow the story going on down here in the south before make up your mind.

      1. really scott? a young rape victim? in what movie?

        1. Mary Elen,
          On “Inside Edition” tonight they showed an interview with this girls mother. The interview stated that the girl was a child actor. The showed a few clips one where the girl was on a gurney (looks like) about to go into the back of an ambluance. The girl was holding a stuffed animal. My first reaction was that it looked like a scen from a “L & O SUV” episode – which I watch all the time.
          The blurred the girl’s face in the clips. And the did not create from where the clips were taken from.
          But it is quite possible that bmp1701 is absolutely right.
          This case was shady on so many levels. I wouldn’t be surprised at this.

  1. I heard earlier that Craft got a fair shake on Today and I was surprised. I understand now, because she’s pretty.

    If she looked like Neil Young things would be very different.

    1. Yeah, “One Dead in Chattanooga”

    2. Totally. I had this image in my head of a fat black woman with an abrasive attitude. And was privately applauding Reason for it’s lack of prejudice.

      Now I realize I was just being a reverse racist. Damnit.

      1. Heh heh heh, you just saw Precious again, didn’t you Hazel?

        1. Well, now that I know she’s white, blond, and blue-eyed … that bitch is definitely guilty.

          1. Indeed. You forgot attractive too. The beautiful people are always guilty. How dare they think they can skate by on looks alone! The nerve!
            Though if Ms. Craft’s family life wasn’t so Jerry Springer I might be inclined to volunteer my services as her depilator.

    3. If she looked like Neil Young, she would be rich, famous and not be in the position she is in.

  2. Seems pretty reasonable to me dude.


    1. It’s interesting the way the media seems to have started taking its role in the court of public opinion a little more seriously.

      Back in the old days, we used to form real lynch mobs. And a lot of local news sites seem to have become a focal point for that sort of thing. People feel free to say things when someone’s accused of something like this that they only would have said as part of a lynch mob in the past…

      It seems to become a lot worse when the accused is man. For some reason, that seems to bring out the latent homosexuality in a lot of guys. You’ll see local stories filled with comments containing what can only be explained as suppressed homosexuality as guy after guy takes turns fantasizing about what they’d like to see happen to the accused in prison.

      As television became more focused on reality programming, and news became more interactive via the interwebs, I guess the lynch mobs went virtual too. But they’re still the equivalent of lynch mobs, and just because they don’t do what they used to do, doesn’t mean they aren’t just as stupid.

      There should be a “To Kill A Mockingbird” about an accused molester made for today. Something like “L.I.E.” maybe, but without the guilty…

      ’cause people still aren’t ready for the idea that even guilty people should still be treated humanely, I guess.

      1. I thought that’s what Nightmare on Elm Street was about. A truly disturbing documentary that was.

        Oh, wait.

  3. apparently she passed a polygraph…

    “- Ms. Craft passed two polygraph tests. They’re not admissible in court, but I’ve seen the results and on every question it shows “no deceit.” No deceit, no deceit, no deceit, etc., etc., and so on to very specific questions involving each of the alleged victims. The tests aren’t admissible in court, but they were administered in Morrow, Georgia (near Atlanta) by a former US Army Criminal Investigations Command Polygraph Examiner with 20 years experience, nine years polygraph teaching experience, Master of Science degrees in Criminal Justice and Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement. The guy’s good.”

    1. I’m more than a little skeptical about this case but polygraphs are not admissible because they are and always have been junk “science.” It’s only real mechanism is in lying to the examinee and scaring them into a confession of some kind. Nothing that comes out of them should be taken as evidence or anything.

      1. Watch the Bullshit episode about them. It’s amazing to see some poor bastard get destroyed by one.

        1. Forensic “science” is junk science. Fingerprints, ballistics, CSI everywhere…just junk.

  4. What it really all comes down to in a case like this is what the jury is ALLOWED to hear during the trial. If you wonder what I mean, Google the term “Motions in Limine.” I was a Litigation Legal Secretary for 10 years – both defense and plaintiff, and naturally learned a lot about our legal system. All Americans should be educated on this process so that when they are on a jury and about to decide someone’s fate, are aware of ALL the facts before making that decision. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, and I do hope Ms. Craft is given a fair trial.

    1. Exactly right, Bako Native. I was told by a judge in my trial that I was not allowed to mention the Bill of Rights. The prosecutor filed a “Motion in Limine” against me that effectively eliminated my first amendment rights inside the court, the one place they are most needed. Our legal system has nothing to do with the common law, or common sense.

  5. Sadly, this judge has allowed any and all lines of questioning by the prosecution yet will now allow the defense the same.

    Example, Joel Henke (Craft’s Ex husband) “suddenly remembered during the trial” (his testimony) that he knew she had watched a girl on girl porn film years in the past. The Judge allowed this testimony.

    Amazingly, every prosecution witness had testimony that included this “I suddenly remembered” line in it, from the alleged victims to witnesses called to decimate her character.

    Of course, there is no PROOF of any of this. Just the “I suddenly remembered” testimony.

    Appalling at best.

  6. Hence, justice requires that no prosecutions be permitted of those alleged to have engaged in pedophilia and the like where the only evidence is the testimony of the “victim.”

    In the context of our heritage, our ideals and our aspirations, rooted in the understanding that the individual is supreme, not the soviet or the communitay or society, as illustrated by Jefferson’s aphorism that it is better that 99 guilty go free than 1 innocent be incarcerated, order is best served when the state is prevented from acting in a manner that is repugnant to Jefferson’s command.

  7. Giving the state a monopoly on violence and the administration of justice is the product of sheeple, uneducated, unenlightened, intellectually lazy and dishonest, morally inferior, egocentric, pusallanimous parasite cowards.

  8. and the evil which gravitates to power.

  9. Mentioning the McMartin Preschool case…

    One of the sad things about the McMartin Preschool case is that their may have very well been some (completely secular and purely malicious) abuse going on at that school….but because of all of the SRA bullshit and the coverage of an overly sensationalist media, we will never be able to know if it actually happened without the spectre of the Satanic Panic rearing its ugly head and making an intelligent debate nigh impossible.

    1. It never happened at McMartin. Never happened, no one was molested. The children came forth many years later and admitted they had been coorced by the adults (parents) to say something that was not true.
      Personally I feel that is what they are doing to Tonya Craft too!

  10. mabe we should put all these reality shows on trail. thats all this is. bad thing about it though is that someones life is being ruined because some parents cant handle what they do and watch to happened to there lives. yea, there using there children in something that they (the children) had (no part)in.from reading all these bloggs looks like most of the public injoys trash.

  11. I do not believe this women is guilty. I think people have pushed these kids into saying something that is not true. Now the children believe it to be true. I think the ex is behind it, as is the ex best friend who either got caught up in this or is involved with Tonya’s ex.
    I feel terrible for this women, if she not convicted, she has lost her reputation, home, etc. She will never teach again. She will never trust again.

  12. Also I just heard about her ex brother in law being on the Jury! OMG…this is the good old boy network at large! This poor women – I hope she gets out of this, somehow, I think she has been totally set up.
    The former brother in law should NEVER BE ALLOWED TO SIT ON THAT JURY!

    My thoughts and prayers are to this women and her child. I also pray the children who I believe have been victimized by their own sicko families.

    By the blonde hair and blue eyes have nothing to do with a crime. If I had a description of all of you for that comment, I am sure I could come up with many crimes committed by people of your gender. Blonde -blue eyed is going to hurt this women badly. This is the deep south people. The family trees don’t fork that much!

  13. As a veteran police officer (10 yrs) in S.C. and a current criminal defense attorney licensed in Georgia and Tennessee, I held no opinion until recently.

    The case appears woefully flawed from the lack of any physical evidence, to the curious acts of the judge and prosecution, to the “suddenly remembered” testimony of most of the state’s witnesses. I just don’t see how this case got off the ground.

    I’ve never seen a case that appeared to one-sided……. I recognize that I form this opinion from only news coverage…but that’s the danger the judicary faces whenever it refuses to recuse and gags people.

  14. For someone who has been abused as a child at 5 years old, I can say this. For a child who is really abused YOU NEVER FORGET. I am 34 years old today and I can tell you the sights the sounds the smells, everything about the day that I was molested at 5 years old. These kids were coached and its a shame.

  15. there are scores of innocent men and women in georgia prisons on child molestation and related charges . the reason for the high conviction rate is lawmakers have designed the laws to make it nearly impossible to win a jury trial. thereby prompting the accused to accept plea bargains . under georgia law the child victims videotaped testimony alone is sufficient to convict . the child does not even have to testify according to the child hearsay law ( ogca 24 – 3 -16 ). also the indictments have such a wide time range that makes it impossible to provide an alibi . the judges routinely deny every defence motion . this type of prosecutorial shananigans should not be tolerated in a so called free society .

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