published Saturday, April 17th, 2010

2 more children testify in Craft trial

RINGGOLD, Ga. -- 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."

Prosecutors questioned each girl separately for about 10 minutes about their relationship with Ms. Craft. The former Chickamauga Elementary School teacher, is charged with 22 counts of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation. Three children allegedly were involved.

When the third child walked into the courtroom led by a social worker, Ms. Craft began to cry. She continued to weep softly for several minutes and several jurors glanced in her direction.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt asked the third child about her relationship with Ms. Craft.

"It was OK," the girl said.

Upon further questioning from Mr. Arnt, she said Ms. Craft touched her several times inappropriately.

"I really don't like to think about it," the 8-year-old said.

When defense attorney Demosthenes Lorandos asked the girl about a gift she had given Ms. Craft, the girl rolled her eyes. She looked at the prosecutors and the social workers on the front row as he continued his questioning.

The indictment against Ms. Craft contends that the alleged incidents occurred at various times between 2002 and 2008.

WHAT'S NEXT

The trial will resume Monday at 9 a.m. The state will call its next witness at that time.

For about an hour, Mr. Lorandos questioned the child about exactly when the alleged incidents took place. After showing the girl several pictures of herself taken at different ages, Mr. Lorandos mapped out a timeline that placed the alleged incidents between April 2007 and May 2008. When he wrote that time frame on a whiteboard, the girl agreed that it was correct.

View previous stories and videos

PDF: Craft order

Video: Tonya Craft on Nightline, June 2, 2010

Video: Tonya Craft interview with Good Morning America, June 2, 2010

PDF: Tonya Craft files a $25 million lawsuit against her accusers

PDF: Complaint by Eric Echols

PDF: Complaint by Sandra Lamb

PDF: Orders on Rule 22 Request for Media Coverage

Article: Craft custody attempt hits snag

Article: Pushing state to investigate

Article: Attorney questions Craigslist investigations

Article: Prosecutor introduces claim of Craft affair

Article: Witness: Mother of alleged victim made threat

Article: Craft trial entering third week

Article: Parents of child testify in Craft molestation trial

Article: Lead investigator testifies he didn't interview fathers

Article: Second forensic interviewer testifies in molestation trial

Article: Witness testimony recounted off camera

Article: Mother of alleged molestation victim testifies

Article: Second week of craft trial begins

Article: 2 more children testify in Craft trial

Article: First child testifies in molestation case

Article: Nurse who examined three alleged molestation victims testifies

Article: Juror dismissed in Craft trial

Article: Craft was framed, lawyer says

Article: Large jury pool in Craft trial, no jury selected

Article: Child molestation cases stirring emotions

Article: Refusal to recuse stirs legal debate

PDF: Tonya Craft’s defense attorney’s request for the judge to be dismissed from the case

Article: Attorney for Craft asks judge for recusal

Article: Molestation case leads to emotional divisions

Article: Molestation trial moved to April

PDF: Tonya Craft's indictment

Mr. Lorandos also played a video of the third witness talking to a social worker. 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."

The second girl testified to Assistant District Attorney Len Gregor that Ms. Craft had molested her at a slumber party when she and three other girls -- two are part of the case -- were at the teacher's house.

In cross-examination, Mr. Lorandos spent several hours showing the girl a video of her interview with an investigator. In the interview, the child said Ms. Craft had touched her on the outside of her clothes.

When Mr. Lorandos asked her if she was telling the truth, she said she had made "a mistake." Later he asked her again, "Were you telling the truth?"

She shook her head no.

As the interview continued, the child remained bubbly and talkative. When Mr. Lorandos asked whether she had felt upset or nervous during the interview, the girl said she hadn't.

Click this link and follow the trial on Twitter.com/timesfreepress

about Joy Lukachick...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
kbp said...

Short of writing a transcript of the entire testimony given there, it would be difficult to have done a better job of reporting the relevant FACTS than what this article provides.

All readers owe Ms. Joy Lukachick a big THANK YOU for a job well done!

April 17, 2010 at 2:16 p.m.
taj said...

It will be interesting to see what these whack-job parents came up with in the form of false allegations when all of this is said and done.

April 19, 2010 at 8:23 p.m.
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