published Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Parents of child testify in Craft molestation trial

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    Staff Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free - Tonya Craft leaves the Catoosa County Courthouse Thursday evening with her husband David Craft.

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Both the father and stepmother of the third child alleged to have been molested by a former schoolteacher testified Friday that they remembered new details in the days before the trial began.

The judge also agreed Friday to allow the prosecution to include testimony about Tonya Craft’s sexual history, including a same-sex encounter.

The state called the stepmother to the witness stand first in the Catoosa County Superior Court trial of Ms. Craft, a former Chickamauga Elementary School teacher charged with 22 counts of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation. The charges involve three children.

When the stepmother was questioned, she said she noticed the girl was red in her private areas on several occasions and that the child woke up once, screaming that she was in pain.

But during cross-examination, defense attorney Scott King asked the witness if she had given that information to a detective.

“No,” she said. “I had not remembered it at that time.”

She testified that she remembered the detail a couple of days before the trial started on April 12 and wrote a note about it to the Catoosa County district attorney’s office.

Before the father was called to the stand, Superior Court Judge Brian House said the prosecution could include Ms. Craft’s previous sexual history.

Mr. King argued that the incidents should be excluded because the sexual encounter was with an adult and not children, citing no research linked same-sex encounters with sexual abuse.

But the prosecution argued that there was a link between the two actions.

When the father got on the stand, Catoosa County Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt first asked him about an incident involving Ms. Craft. The father testified that he became aware that Ms. Craft had been drugged one night at a bar and woke up in a female friend’s bed the next day.

In cross-examination, Mr. King asked the father why he didn’t include that information in his previous statements.

“I just remembered it,” he said.

During the prosecution’s questioning, the father also showed the jury what his daughter had demonstrated to him about how Ms. Craft had touched her. She showed him in May 2008 after he asked her if anyone had touched her, he testified.

Later, Mr. King asked the father about a conversation he had with the father of one of the other alleged victims before he questioned his daughter about Ms. Craft. At that point, Mr. King pulled out a whiteboard and a large, bound telephone record.

Mr. King proceeded to write on the board every time the father had talked with two other families involved in the allegations — the first are the parents of the alleged first victim, the second is the family of Sherry Wilson, who testified Monday that the allegations about Ms. Craft first started to come to light at Mrs. Wilson’s home in May 2008.

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

In front of the jury, Mr. King began to count out loud how many times the couples had talked on the phone between May 30, 2008, and February 2009.

“Over 300 calls, does that sound right?” Mr. King asked when he finished.

“There was a lot,” the father said, explaining the conversations involved questions about the well-being of the children.

For the rest of the afternoon, several Chickamauga Elementary School employees were called to the witness stand to testify.

Joni Kythas, the first alleged victim’s third-grade teacher, testified that she caught the girl masturbating in class.

When she asked the mother about the incident with her daughter, Ms. Kythas testified the mother said “she learned it from Ms. Craft.”

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

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 ...

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rolando said...

"Superior Court Judge Brian House said the prosecution could include Ms. Craft’s previous [homo]sexual history. [Added for clarity. rolando]

"Mr. King argued that the incidents should be excluded because the sexual encounter was with an adult and not children, citing no research linked same-sex encounters with sexual abuse.

"But the prosecution argued that there was a link between the two actions."


Wow! There are unintended consequences to THOSE comments by the judge. They are now legal precedent. Thank about that.

A Superior Court Judge unequivocally stated that same-sex relations between two consenting adults somehow implies those acts are rather distasteful and even related to other offenses -- domestic violence, perhaps. Or pederasty.

Makes one wonder how the Homosexual/Lesbian Front out there feels about their oft-denied connection... Their "no research link[ing] same-sex encounters with sexual abuse" argument just went up in smoke.

What kind of a lesbian-hating judge is sitting up there? Oh, that's right...he was the lawyer representing the [now] ex-husband of the accused. He is also the same judge who refused to recuse himself for that rather obvious conflict of interest. His Freudian slip is showing.

His ruling on Ms Craft's [legal] past actions in connection with her unrelated trial fairly reeks of hate-speech...or it would if one of the great unwashed said it.

This case is getting more bizarre every day. It reads like a serialized dark comedy of errors. The only thing missing is the Red Queen's "Off with her head!" [apologies to the author]. Maybe that comes later...Judge Roy Bean's rules seemingly apply here.

God save us from being prosecuted for ANYTHING in this one-horse town.

April 24, 2010 at 9:37 a.m.
rolando said...

"The father testified that he became aware that Ms. Craft had been drugged one night at a bar and woke up in a female friend’s bed the next day.

"In cross-examination, Mr. King asked the father why he didn’t include that information in his previous statements.

"“I just remembered it,” he said."

Convenient, that. Also not subject to Discovery and any developing rebuttal -- like, "How exactly did you find out about that? Were you there? Who told you? Is he/she in the courtroom so we can question him/her?"...etc. That was probably inadmissible hearsay.

"Sentence first -- verdict afterwards." -- another Red Queenism.


Keep up the great reporting, Ms Lukachick. You are on a roll.

April 24, 2010 at 9:49 a.m.
mom3dd said...

This is a witch hunt not unlike others in this town.Were these defendants not warned not to talk about the case to one another and to nurture not stress the little ones and go on living until the case. 300 or so discussions should have the case thrown out right here and right now.This is about a woman being emotional hurt because here girl friend and her didn't see eye to eye on some thing and she just wants to hur Tanya. Pitaful

April 24, 2010 at 6:27 p.m.
jdolls43 said...

Where is this woman that Tonya was with, when she said she was drugged and woke up in her bed. Was this woman put up to drug Tonya. And because she woke up in this womens bed does not mean she was involved with the women wrongly. It can happen to anyone that is drinking and loss count on how much you are drinking. It happened to someone I use to know. She woke up beside a man and both was fully clothed and didn't know who or remember ever seeing each other. And if this was to be that she went with this women, then why did she tell someone at school about it.

April 24, 2010 at 8:52 p.m.
taj said...

This entire process is an absurd joke. A total waste of taxpayer money. www.upglad.com>

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