published Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Prosecutor introduces claim of Craft affair

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

RINGGOLD, Ga. — A prosecutor in the child molestation case of a former schoolteacher on Tuesday brought up alleged incidents involving the defendant and other adults.

When Catoosa County Assistant District Attorney Len Gregor cross-examined defense witness Paula “Dee” Potter on Tuesday morning, he asked about her knowledge of affairs that Tonya Craft is alleged to have had as well as her involvement in beauty fitness pageants.

Ms. Potter was called to the witness stand in Catoosa County Superior Court in the 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.

During his cross-examination of Ms. Potter, Mr. Gregor asked a list of questions that attacked the character of Ms. Craft. Among other questions, he asked Ms. Potter if she knew about several incidents in which Ms. Craft was intoxicated and wore inappropriate clothing in public.

Ms. Potter testified that she was aware of a few of the incidents in Ms. Craft’s past, but she said the teacher never had acted inappropriately around her.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free Press Tonya Craft leaves the Catoosa County Courthouse..

When Mr. Gregor asked if she and her husband had been involved in an affair with Ms. Craft, she said no.

While the jury was out on a break, defense attorney Cary King asked Judge Brian House to exclude any more evidence about Ms. Craft’s alleged incidents with other adults. He cited several rulings from various courts, including ones in Georgia, that said evidence should be included only “if it can be linked to the crime charged.”

Judge House denied the request.

Objection to objection

During his cross-examination of Ms. Potter, Mr. Gregor became visibly agitated when Mr. King objected to a question about reports that Ms. Craft sent a promiscuous picture to a teenage boy, saying the state had not entered it as evidence.

He implied that the objection was done for theatricality rather than legal issues.

“I’m a little tired of this playing out to these folks,” Mr. Gregor said, pointing to the spectators in the courtroom and the videocamera being used by the media.

He told Judge House, “I’m not obligated to give (the defense) the material I’m using.”

Judge House agreed that Mr. Gregor could continue with his line of questioning.

Ms. Potter testified that she trusted Ms. Craft with her children and never heard any complaints that the former teacher mistreated any child at her house.

She said she and Ms. Craft were good friends and that from 2006 to about halfway through 2008, her children went to Ms. Craft’s house every day after school.

Ms. Potter testified that the first alleged victim’s mother called her on May 30, 2008, complaining about Ms. Craft and how she treated her husband, David Craft, during a period when they were separated.

“She hated Tonya for what she did to David,” Ms. Potter testified.

She also testified that the mother had not mentioned anything about an alleged incident with her daughter and Ms. Craft.

During the mother’s testimony earlier in the trial, she said that between May 23 and 27, 2008, her daughter had told her that Ms. Craft had touched her inappropriately.

In the afternoon, Dr. Nancy Fajman, assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University, took the stand as an expert witness.

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After examining each child’s medical exams on the stand, Dr. Fajman testified she didn’t see anything abnormal from the exams’ photos of the girls.

In prior testimony, sexual assault nurse examiner Sharon Anderson testified that, after she examined the three alleged victims, two girls showed “suspicious” physical signs “that were consistent with sexual abuse.”

During Dr. Fajman’s cross-examination, Mr. Arnt cited several scientific articles that said many victims of sexual abuse don’t show any physical signs.

Dr. Fajman agreed that many cases of sexual abuse don’t show any physical evidence.

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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enufisenuf said...

This should be a mistrial on the action of the idiot judge, so much for fair and equal justice. House should be removed and prosecuted for derilection of duty. But he obviously wants Ms Craft found guilty and will misuse his power as he see fit to achieve that goal. Unfortunatly, Catoosa county district attorneys gestapo has already determined her guilty, not it's just putting on a show. Justice needs to be served but not in the courts and not against an innocent party like Ms Craft. These bitter mothers who have a personal vendetta against Ms Craft need to be tried, but not in court, the law is a joke around here.

April 28, 2010 at 5:40 a.m.
Livn4life said...

I am sorry but I cannot understand why Mrs. Craft's behavior with other adults has anything to do with these charges. Please add to that, my not understanding why all the adult interactions CAN be admitted in court yet her passing two polygraph tests CANNOT BE. Is this a circus or what? Who can step in and stop all the foolishness? To me it will be most difficult to determine what the truth really is. One thing is for sure, if Mrs. Craft is found not guilty, someone, a lot of them will owe her a huge apology and I would not be surprised if a lawsuit or multi-lawsuits occur. If she is found guilty, my guess is there will be appeals and always a lot of questions as to what this is really about. We live in very sad days.

April 28, 2010 at 6 a.m.
rolando said...

A "Hanging Judge" presides over this gross distortion of American Justice. He WILL have his way with Ms. Craft, a victim of his offensive "jurisprudence".

Is this incompetent judge subject to recall or re-election? He might make a good Dog Catcher...if you like someone who detests chihuahuas to their death but releases Killer Pitbulls...

April 28, 2010 at 7:14 a.m.
w1spurgeon said...

This has looked like a witchhunt to me from the git-go. Now it seems like the judge is in on it too. The best thing you can say about Judge House's rulings is that they are likely to be overturned on appeal.

April 28, 2010 at 7:59 a.m.

Walker County scored big during the Noble creamatory scandal and Catoosa County took note. We are getting very close to a visit by Nancy Grace and her CNN Headline News cameras. When that happens and others like TMZ and Court TV follow, then Catoosa County will be more than happy with housing and feeding the media frenzy.

Until then, the crooked judge and his hand puppet prosecutors still have some work to do.

April 28, 2010 at 8:12 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

I believe the kids ,Tonya Craft is a child molester and should spend rest of her life in JAIL. The Judge is doing a good making sure all the facts in this case is presented...These girls will have to live with this molesting act that Tonya Craft did to them for the rest of her life...Rot in JAIL!!!!!

April 28, 2010 at 8:25 a.m.
quietreader said...

BOOBOO99, I wouldn't be surprised if you're one of the mothers of the "victims". Like the paper said earlier, this looks more like an episode from Desperate Housewives than a fair and impartial trial. It looks like the judge is trying to make a name for himself worthy of tabloid coverage.

April 28, 2010 at 9:15 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

QUIETREADER,Nope I have nothing to do with the case, i rather trust the word of the 3 girls in the trial. I think you might be friends with this molester Tonya craft. I hope you are not supporting her evil ways...If you are u need mental help yourself.

April 28, 2010 at 9:29 a.m.
Humphrey said...

First and foremost, we simply must protect children. We must.

Second, in trials with child witnesses, we must be very careful that the children are not lead in to false reports by the questioning techniques. When children are asked about the same events over and over and it keeps being suggested to them that this actually happened, they can begin to believe that it did. See this for some examples: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_care...

It is crucially important that this type of case is handled with complete professionalism to protect both children and a potentially innocent person.

April 28, 2010 at 9:43 a.m.
InspectorBucket said...

Bosh and more bosh.

What are the facts? This is not a television show. You do not get to phone in a vote based on emotive connections.

Proof must be established with a clear eye. Keep a keen edge on your sense of justice, but leave your sentimentality and emotionalism at the courtroom door.

April 28, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.
princehal said...

Amen, Clay!

April 28, 2010 at 9:48 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Check out this letter regaurding the idiot judge in this witch hunt, BooBoo change your name to BOOB, your blind and ignorant

http://williamlanderson.blogspot.com/2010/04/open-letter-to-judge-brian-house.html

April 28, 2010 at 10:28 a.m.
TNborn said...

The testimony of children under continuous pressure from any source are highly likely to eventually crumple in the direction of the source. They cannot be blamed for this - they are responding to the environment in an effort to succeed in that setting.

April 28, 2010 at 10:28 a.m.
TNborn said...

Oh - and BTW - the judge is assuring that Ms. Craft will win on appeal. Apparently he is ready to retire from the bench. Unfortunately, Ms. Craft's shattered life may be beyond repair.

April 28, 2010 at 10:30 a.m.
lawabiding said...

First thought--Seems to me someone (or a lot of someone's) made a definite mistake voting in House! Wonder if Larry Stagg would have made the same calls on the objections that House has made. Allowing in some of this testimony is absolutely ridiculous.

Second thought--Yes, one would hope to believe the children, but children that seem to have been coached through their stories? One child didn't have anything to say until the third day of being asked by her mother? Well, heck. I have teenage girls that would come up with something...anything...to say if I was after them for three days questioning (badgering) them to say something on a subject. I'm surprised it even took three days! Sounds to me like the little girl said no, no, and no until she got fed up and said what her mother wanted to hear. Same goes for the girl who had nothing to say when first interviewed and then the next time interviewed "all of a sudden" opened up? Give me a break!

Seems to me there's a few women out for revenge. Hopefully, Craft is found innocent and when she is she sues for malicious prosecution.

As far as the woman saying that she is an emergency responder, yet didn't know that she is a court mandated reporter? What kind of education did she have that she wouldn't know her responsibilities in the health field??

April 28, 2010 at 10:34 a.m.

What a travesty, all the facts not in yet and Tonya Craft is guilty in booboo's eyes. BTW, is that BOOB-0099 or BOOBOO-99? Kinda like Agent 007 but the 'agent' isn't rational, smart or unbiased. Just boobish. This could be the Court of Jesters for some.

My post on Clay's latest cartoon asks more questions but lawabiding brought up some good points. The articles I've read pointed out that the children were coached at the time by an inexperienced, inept interrogator who kept pressuring them after they said nothing or "no" dozens of times. That in itself is a red flag. And she didn't even make notes after questioning the children...

Is the Inspector Clay P-hal? I can't quite reconcile Clay's cartoons with the Inspector's poetry and poetic bent.

Amen Humphrey, very well said.

April 28, 2010 at 11:03 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

Listen!!! Its common sense!!! Its hard to believe 3 girls and 3 mothers would lie in this case against Tonya Craft.There is no gain for them to lie!!! These families wants JUSTICE!! for what happen to their children when they was molested by this Teacher they trusted. And I hope she gets what she deserves because she gave these 3 girls a life sentence they have to live with for the rest of their lives.Thats my opinion of course.

April 28, 2010 at 11:36 a.m.
Eric said...

"...if she knew about several incidents in which Ms. Craft was intoxicated and wore inappropriate clothing in public."

What does this have to do with anything? And what exactly does "inappropriate clothing" mean? Granted, I was not in the courtroom and didn't hear the questions that were presented before and after this one. However, from personal experience, I can say that many of us in our early 20s would have to answer affirmative to such a question. I am surprised that the judge let such irrelevant questioning be entered into the record.

I agree with many of the posters on this board. There are multiple inconsistencies with the victim's statements. I don't know what kind of behind the scenes issues that the parents had with Ms. Craft, but it seems to me that personal vendettas are being dragged into the courtroom.

April 28, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.
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