Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ground Zero: The Mondale Act of 1974 and Tonya Craft

One of the constant hazards we face when there is new legislation is the later realization that the Law of Unintended Consequences will show its face. The false child molestation charges against Tonya Craft and the slew of false charges that turned into witch hunts in the late 20th Century have their roots in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, also known as the Mondale Act.

As this linked article demonstrates, one of the worst consequences of this law was that it led to a massive number of false charges that ruined countless lives and it continues to do so. Tonya Craft and her loved ones are the latest casualties. In the end, unfortunately, it always is about the money.

One cannot understand what is happening in Tonya's case without understanding the Mondale Act. This is a law that not only encourages aggressive prosecution for alleged child abuse, but has a big payout as well, and that is where the Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play because the Mondale Act provides a number of incentives for the authorities to act unjustly -- and be paid big bucks for it. Psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner lays out the problem:
One central problem has been that state and federal money is available for the treatment of children who are found to have been abused, but no monies have been specifically allocated for the protection and treatment of those who have been falsely accused and/or children who have suffered psychiatric disturbances because they have been used as vehicles for the promulgation of a false accusation. Accordingly, an evaluator who concludes that abuse has occurred can justify recommending treatment for which state and federal monies will be provided. If the evaluator concludes that no abuse has occurred, there is no route for requesting funding for further evaluation and/or treatment.

In addition, there is a complex network of interaction and interdependence among mental health facilities, child protection services, and investigatory agencies (including police, detectives, and prosecutors). It behooves all working in this network to "cooperate" with one another because the greater the number of referrals, the greater the justification for the requisite funding. Laws mandating the reporting of child abuse and laws providing immunity from prosecution for those reporting abuse ensure an endless stream of referrals for investigators and "validators." All this predictably fuels sex-abuse hysteria, hysteria in which an accused individual's Constitutional due-process protections are commonly ignored.
Thus, when all the incentives run in favor of making false accusations and there are few or no brakes on the system, then we should not be surprised when these "witch hunts" occur, and they have happened time and again.

Furthermore, because the investigations and subsequent prosecutions are made "in the name of protecting children," authorities are easily able to abuse their powers and to circumvent the rights of the accused. That clearly is what has occurred in the Tonya Craft case, as the prosecutor has tried to hide exculpatory evidence, and the judge has denied every defense motion and has handed down a defense-quashing gag order in order to grease the skids of conviction.

I have spoken to a very good source (not part of the defense team and not a witness in the case) who has given me an accurate and truthful account of what happened in this case almost from Day One. (The source has no family or friendship connections to the parties involved and is quite believable.) It is clear to me -- absolutely clear -- that Craft is innocent of all of the charges.

It also is clear to me that prosecutor Chris Arnt and Judge Brian House are tag teaming in order to have exculpatory evidence suppressed and not permitted to be revealed at trial in the hopes that they can ram through a conviction, something that the Mondale Act encourages. There is stunning material in this case, from prosecutorial threatening of witnesses who could shed light on the truth to a false arrest of an important defense witness, that ultimately would be made public in an appeal.

However, because House is able to act as a virtual dictator in this case, for the time being he can run the show any way that he wants. He figures that Craft will be demonized, third-rate news institutions like Channel 9 (WTVC-TV) will run pro-prosecution broadcasts, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press will suck up to Arnt and the judge, and important exculpatory evidence (at least temporarily) will be shoved down the Orwellian Memory Hole.

Am I accusing House and Arnt of misconduct? Yes, I am. Do I believe these men should be investigated by the state bar? Yes, I do. The tactics they have used are so contrary to any sense of decency, not to mention a moral sense of what should be their duties, that they have demonstrated themselves to be unfit to carry out any modicum of justice.

Arnt wants to win, and he is willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means employing intimidation and abuse of his powers. House is a relatively new judge and he wants to "prove" to his Catoosa County constituents that he is a "tough" judge who won't "let criminals get off on technicalities."

As my source filled me in on the details, all I could think of was that what is happening in Catoosa County is what used to happen in the former Soviet Union. Americans like to think that they are incapable of acting with such injustice. Unfortunately, that is not true, not by a long shot.

House and Arnt cannot forever suppress the exculpatory information, as if there is a conviction, it will be on public documents for everyone to see if and when the defense files an appeal. What they are hoping is that for a short time -- short enough to get a conviction -- they can keep down the lid on the truth.

Michael Nifong, aided by judges Ronald Stephens and Kenneth Titus, tried to do the same in the Duke Lacrosse Case. Stephens greased the skids for indictment and Titus shut up the defense with a gag order. Nifong knew that all he had to do was to steer the dishonest case to trial, and he nearly pulled it off.

I have no doubt at all that a Durham jury would have convicted the three young men in the Duke case, had it gone to trial. At very best, there would have been a hung jury, as some jurors would have felt the community pressure to convict no matter what evidence was presented. Only an unprecedented act by the North Carolina State Bar kept this execrable event from occurring.

Unfortunately, I see no possibility that the state bar in Georgia will do the same thing. What is happening in Catoosa County is ugly, and sooner or later people are going to realize what the people in positions of trust and authority have done, but in the meantime, the evil deed is being carried out.

6 comments:

paul Roberts said...

This is an outstanding report by a scholar with a
sense of justice.

kbp said...

Bill,

It doesn't alter what will happen in this case, but isn't the big money in the Child Protection Services (CPS) business from the adoption act signed by Clinton? Doesn't it also pay bonuses to states that adopt out more each year?

A connection between the CPS (or whatever the state names them) and all of the medical communities is the "Special Needs" children. If they take mood altering drugs they're worth bigger bucks and probably easier to keep track of.

I won't classify ALL that adopt as greedy, for most are good people. Some aren't, and the staff that manages to keep the selection of children available are never to be trusted by me. They tarnish the entire system.

Even a "not guilty" is a sure route to her getting the children back. The majority that lose their children never see charges filed against them or a court date to prove their innocence. All the CPS needs is a couple half-fabricated professional opinions that the children suffered "NEGLECT".

liberranter said...

When the false charges were being levied in the 1980s and 1990s, there was one constant with all of those cases: hostile judges greased the skids for the prosecutors, setting barriers before the defense that were unprecedented.

In any nation with a REAL JUSTICE system, such behavior by a sitting judge would result in automatic impeachment, removal from the bench, and, in most cases, criminal prosecution. Amerika is quite obviously not such a nation, as this case and far too many others demonstrate. We can only hope that your work, here as in the Duke case, along with other dedicated bloggers and journalists, will result in Chris Arnt meeting Nifong's fate.

Anonymous said...

It will come later on the heads of Arnt and House, because myself and multitudes of others who are convinced of Tonya's innocence reside in Catoosa County. We will not forget this atrocity come election time!

Anonymous said...

Well Georgia is not the only state doing these "sexual abuse" Witch Hunts. Right now proceedings in the state of Oklahoma are occuring for a innocent man on just the same "sexual abuse" Witch Hunt. The mandated reporter "teacher" has allowed the break-up of a family due to just asking for help. The case is The State of Oklahoma v. Jeffrey Birchfield. The prosecutors office only has heresay evidence and fraudulant medical evidence and they are proceeding to trial with nothing more. A true injustice in our great society. There is no due process of law in the backwoods of Leflore County and only the Prosecutor Margaret Nicholson to lead the way for these "Sex Crimes" of which the DA's office has no evidence. A kangaroo court room, a uneducated jugde and prosecutor and people of the court house whom don't even know the law of the Constitution. A 26 year old man will become the next victim. As to the child who made the allegations-the parents requested and IEP from the Wister school and were refused by the teacher Mrs. Alicia Sumpter. The childs behavior needed to be gotten under control at home, is what the parents were told. A confirmed diagnosis of ADHD by the childs doctor was made in 2006 "Unbeknownst" to the parents and only recently told to the mother of the child-4 years after the diagnosis via the DHS worker. The now 6 year old child has been removed from her home placed in 5 different foster care placements and continually is bombarded by the CPS workers, DA investigators and Psychologist to tell this gross fabrication. The school got a tip from a disgruntled grandma (the dad's mother) that the little girls father was a "Convicted Child Molester" never has been done and the father has NEVER been convicted of any thing of the sort. Yet because an upset grandparent called to tip the school off then it must be true. The school never did look to see if the man had been convicted or even charged- when childhood curosity got the better of the young girl, the next thing the family knew the kids were being removed for alleged sexual abuse.

Anonymous said...

Things like that(CPS), telling lies and removing children from *decent and stable* homes are happening in Kentucky also. I would say it happens all over the country. MONEY is the motivator. ~~State sanctioned Kidnapping~~

CPS can take an instant dislike to someone, and it's all over for that person. Lies, lies, and more lies. It's supposed to be "in the best interest of the children" KRS Ch 406.

They act like they are God. They have no oversight.