RINGGOLD, Ga. -- Prosecutors today will continue building their case against a former kindergarten teacher charged with child molestation.
Tonya Craft's trial began April 12 in Catoosa Superior Court. Most of the first week was spent with both sides questioning the three girls young girls who all testified Tonya Craft had inappropriately touched them.
Prosecutors spent about 10 minutes with each child, asking for specifics of when and how the alleged molestation occurred. All three girls said the alleged incidents happened at Ms. Craft's home and gave one example of how it happened. The girls could not give clear testimony whether they had seen Ms. Craft act inappropriately with other girls.
In cross-examination, defense attorney Demosthenes Lorandos confronted each girl on why they said different things at the trial than they told investigators in earlier, taped interviews.
"I just remembered" or "I don't know" was the common response from the girls.
Ms. Craft is a former Chickamauga Elementary School kindergarten teacher who is charged with 22 counts of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation.
The public was excluded from the courtroom when the girls testified but was allowed in for testimony by medical experts who examined the alleged victims. The seats were filled with supporters of Ms. Craft and of the children.
Sharon Anderson, a sexual assault nurse examiner, showed the jury graphic pictures explaining two of the girls showed "suspicious" signs that were consistent with sexual abuse.
When questioned by a defense attorney, Ms. Anderson conceded the signs did not prove sexual abuse. But she said the report showed physical abnormalities in two girls and was made based on certain characteristics after medical examination.
"I make my decision on experience and what we consider normal," she said.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...