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.
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.
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.
Joy Lukachick is a crime 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 down ...