Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Latest from Jacob Sullum at Reason

Jacob Sullum, a columnist and editor with Reason Magazine and has been blogging on the Tonya Craft trial, and his latest post, dated April 18, has a lot of insight into the inconsistencies presented in the testimonies:

On Friday, two more girls, including Tonya Craft's 8-year-old daughter, testified that the former Chickamauga, Georgia, teacher had sexually abused them. The daughter, who used to live with Craft, is now in the custody of Craft's ex-husband. Other local news outlets have joined WRCB, the Chattanooga TV station that has been providing the most detailed trial coverage so far, in highlighting the gaps and inconsistencies in the testimony of Craft's three alleged victims, who in addition to her daughter include two girls who say she molested them during sleepovers at her house. Here is a report from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
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."
Here is The Chattanoogan:
As with the first young witness who testified on [Wednesday and Thursday], the latest young witness peppered her testimony with "I just remembered," and "I don't know," or "I don't remember." The only difference was that this witness used them with the prosecution, as well as the defense.
The answers from the girls sometimes differed from their answers in earlier taped interviews with investigators and social counselors. The girls would explain the differences with responses like "I don't remember."
The inconsistencies were not trivial. The second alleged victim, for example, told investigators Craft had touched her outside her clothing, while on Friday she said it was underneath her clothing. The same girl told investigators she did not report the alleged abuse because Craft told her not to; on Friday she said she remained silent because Craft threatened to "hurt my mom and dad." (This shifting story is similar to the evolving account of the first child witness, who initially said she remained silent because she thought she would get in trouble with her parents but later "remembered" that Craft had threatened to kill her mother.) The second child witness also was inconsistent about how many times she had been at Craft's house:
Defense Attorney: You’ve told us that you’ve been over to Miss Tonya’s house several times, but this morning you told us it was only once. Why is that?

Witness: I just remembered.
Another point that has been difficult to pin down is approximately (let alone exactly) when these alleged incidents of abuse are supposed to have taken place. The indictments cover a six-year period, from 2002 to 2008. Craft's defense attorney labored mightily to narrow this window down during his questioning of Craft's daughter. "I can’t remember when it happened," she exclaimed at one point. "I just know it happened." Finally, after using photographs of herself at different ages to refresh her memory of the time frame, she agreed that the incidents must have occurred between April 2007 and May 2008.

In previous posts, I've noted indications that the first child witness was encouraged to report abuse, whether or not it actually happened. On Friday the defense showed videos of interviews with the other two girls that provided more evidence of coaching (emphasis added):
Before the interview was over, the girl [the second child witness] told the detective, "Mom said I could get a toy if I talked to you." "She didn't tell you you could get a toy for just coming to me, did she?" "Yes, she did." After several more attempts to get the girl to tell him, that she was getting the toy for telling the truth, she finally responded affirmatively.
Video of an interview with Craft's daughter also suggests adults were determined to elicit allegations against Craft (emphasis added):
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."
In that first exchange, judging from Friday's questioning, the girl was upset about allegations that she had played "the boyfriend/girlfriend game" with her friends, which reportedly involved putting their hands down each other's pants. In the second exchange, it seems the social worker, not the girl, first raised the idea that Craft had touched her inappropriately.


Anonymous said...

In a previous post, you indicated that you had some media contacts. Do you know if this affair is going to receive some national attention? I don't see how there can be anything but a Not Guilty verdict.

The national media hasn't covered some (murder) trials I would like to see covered. This travesty is nothing like those.

Anonymous said...

Catoosa County got national medial attention with the Alvin Ridley case and near by Walker Co. with the Marsh mess, so why doesn't someone in the national media take an interest in this injustice!!!

William L. Anderson said...

Oh, I have been trying, and have contacted a number of people. It is just one of those things, however.

As I said before, I DON'T want CNN doing anything, as they will join the prosecutors or give it to Nancy Grace, who in my view is psychotic and a rotten, nasty person (on good days).

For a story to go national, either you have to see a bunch of people indicted, or there has to be a race/class angle as there was in the Duke Lacrosse Case. Furthermore, media people are scared to death of molestation cases because even with all of the debunking that has gone on in the past, they still view the whole thing as creepy.

Again, I have made a good effort and have contacted people, but so far, no dice.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your efforts, at least a lot of people of becoming aware of this mess, because of your blog.

Anonymous said...

The more I read about this case, the more I believe in her innocence. I think this started when some little girls either got caught or an adult somehow found out about their "game". I think some parent went nuts and the child then apparently made up a lie to cover up what she was doing or to maybe cover up for whoever taught them this game. It wouldn't be the first time, a child or children have gotten so caught up in lies that it later seem to be the truth. I just hope the jury has enough intelligent people on it to see the truth!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe if you compiled several cases showing the injustice and the lies of the DA's office in Catoosa County, someone from the national media (not CNN) would be more interested. I know of one, that was finally dropped and I am sure there are others. There have been several people to post about their experiences on the truth for Tonya website.

Kellie G said...

Yes, thank you. You have a provided a wealth of information and a well written analysis on this case with it's key points.