In the summer of 2007, I wrote "Nifonged in Narragansett" about a case in which the Rhode Island attorney general charged a man with rape that allegedly happened 32 years before. There was no evidence except for the "recovered memories" of the alleged victim, and it seemed that even those memories were not very good. In fact, she could not tell when or where the alleged rape occurred, so the AG helped her by fashioning a broad (OK, ridiculous) time frame. As I wrote in the article:
First, and most important, there is no evidence except for this woman’s claim. Furthermore, she made her claim under the aegis of "recovered memories." The "theory" of recovered memories works in the following way: some people who have experienced traumatic experiences, such as a rape or witnessing a murder, then "repress" the memory and only bring it out under therapy.About a week after the article appeared, Lynch suddenly had an epiphany: the case was ridiculous, and even an American jury would not buy the junk he was trying to sell. He quickly dropped the charges.
What is most "interesting" (actually, "fraudulent" is a much better word) about these "memories" that have been brought to the fore is that they are memories that have improved with time. Researchers who are intimately familiar with memories say unequivocally that memories become worse over time.
Second, these "recovered memories" are selective. No doubt, she is forthcoming in all sorts of details about this "rape," but cannot remember when it was, whether it was in the spring, summer, or fall, a seven-month time frame. Granted, the prosecutor has done that so that Mr. Allen cannot possibly line up an alibi defense, since if he says he was out of town on Day X, then the prosecution then will claim that the rape happened on Day Y, and when he finds evidence for what he did on Day Y, then the timeline will be moved to Day Z, and so on.
Fast forward to 2010, when Catoosa County Assistant DA Chris Arnt, teaming with Judge Brian House, are seeing if they can outdo Patrick Lynch and Michael Nifong. The Tonya Craft trial, which begins April 12, has all of the idiocy that engulfed Rhode Island and the Duke Lacrosse Case, as well as the "child molestation" hysteria that lying prosecutors such as Janet Reno gave us two decades ago. Indeed, the spirit of America's most evil (ex) prosecutor, Michael Nifong, lives on in Catoosa County, Georgia.
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. For example, in the infamous Country Walk case, Reno used two clearly unqualified "expert witnesses" who used tactics so coercive that a federal judge who later heard the appeal declared the children's confessions to be "fundamentally unfair." (Reno managed to have an expert witness for the defense in the Grant Snowden case dismissed because the expert did not "specialize" in a branch of forensics that did not even exist.) The judge did whatever Reno said, and Reno managed to get the convictions, which served as her springboard to the U.S. Department of Justice. Within two months of her confirmation, she ordered (and then covered up) an assault in which nearly 80 people, including 20 children, died in the worst government-caused massacre since Wounded Knee. Reno's popularity rose, according to the polls.
I now examine the case against Tonya Craft. Like Reno, Chris Arnt is pulling every dishonest and coercive tactic in the books. Like the judges in Reno's faux cases, Brian House is making sure that Arnt gets away with things that simply are stunning in their dishonesty. Let me point out what Arnt is doing:
- He fashioned his indictments to be vague, just as Patrick Lynch did in Rhode Island. On one indictment, he lists a 10-month window between 2005 and 2006, and on the others he has a window of almost two years between 2006 and 2008. There are no specific days, times, or even places where these "crimes" allegedly took place. Michael Nifong, in the Duke case, kept changing the timeline in order to counter the alibis of the accused and to counter the time-stamped photographs that led people to question Nifong's account of the non-crime.
- Like Nifong, he arrested a witness for the defense on trumped-up charges in order to keep that person from being able to testify. In the Duke case, cab driver Moez Elmostafa had picked up Reade Seligmann before Seligmann was supposed to have "raped" Crystal Mangum, and Seligmann was shown on a bank camera standing before an automatic teller while the "rape" allegedly was taking place. Since even Nifong knew he could not convince a Durham jury that Seligmann could be in two places at once, he arrested Elmostafa on charges (of which he was acquitted) in order to try to void Seligmann's airtight alibi. In the Tonya Craft case, Chris Arnt arrested a private investigator for the defense (who, like Elmostafa, is black), and charged him on trumped-up charges to keep him from being able to testify. Why did he do that? I explain next.
- When the father of one of the alleged "victims" told Arnt that he believed that nothing happened and that he did not want his daughter to testify. Arnt threatened him with arrest for "obstruction of justice." Unfortunately for Arnt, the father also told the defense's private investigator the same thing, and the whole thing was recorded. How does one keep that testimony from trial? Easy. Team up with the judge, arrest the investigator, and suppress the taped testimony.
- In January, Arnt posted the following on his Facebook page: “Chris A. Arnt is wondering if Tonya Craft’s defense lawyers are really insane of [or] just trying to jack uo [up] her defense bill?” When Craft's attorneys asked House to have Arnt removed from the case because of the comment, House refused.
- An experienced therapist in Atlanta interviewed one of the "victims" and concluded that there had been no sexual abuse at all. How did Arnt and House react to this development? Police raided the therapist's office (while she was in the middle of a session with a client) and took the Craft file. Thus, she is not able to testify, either.
- One of the "therapists" who insists that the interviewed children were sexually abused had engaged in conduct so outrageous that in a civil case in Chattanooga, Tennessee, involving Craft and an ex-husband, Judge Marie Williams disqualified her. House, on the other hand, refuses even to question that therapist's record and credentials and has said that the only mention of the therapist's record in court can come if Williams agrees to testify for the defense, which is highly unlikely.
- House slapped down a gag order to ensure that Craft could not publicly tell her story. Of course, the order came after the prosecution had been able to put out its story.
- House has denied literally every motion that the defense has filed, rolling his eyes and giving clear body language that he despises the defense and is letting them know that he will stand in their way at every turn. So much for due process of law.
Yet, one needs to ask the hard questions that, apparently, the local Chattanooga area media refuses to ask. Why the intimidation of witnesses? Why the threats of arrests to those who have exculpatory evidence? Why did Arnt lie to the defense and say he did not have the results of the interview with a child who claimed that there was no sexual abuse at the original sleepover? Why does Arnt refuse to list dates, times and locations of the alleged abuse?
As one who has written a number of articles and papers on prosecutorial and judicial abuse, I must admit that what I am seeing in the Tonya Craft case is shocking, and I am not easily shocked. Here is someone being denied anything that resembles due process of law, is facing a hostile judge who clearly wants her to be convicted, and is dealing with a prosecutor who believes he is not bound by the law and has resorted to disgraceful acts of intimidation to save his case.
Unfortunately, these men have received a free ride in the press. The local Channel 9 (WTVC-TV) is little more than a publicist for the prosecution (see the "objective" coverage from Channel 9 and you will see what I mean), and the newspapers are not much better (although the local Catoosa County News has done a fairly good job in its coverage).
There have been no editorials in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press condemning the destruction of due process in a neighboring county, even though the editors there are quite willing to take a hard look at due process elsewhere -- provided that the trials are held far away from the Chattanooga area. The members of the "courthouse crowd" in Catoosa County, like most people who earn a living at the county courthouse, are willing to look the other way and permit this abomination to go on in their midst.
In other words, while something that is reminiscent of what happened in the former Soviet Union is happening in their backyard, no one in a position of authority or influence in the Chattanooga area is willing to stand up for simple justice. True, it might take some courage to stand up to Arnt and House, as they seem to be holding all of the cards, and so far, the guilty silence among influential people has been deafening. Few people will agree to stand up for an accused child molester no matter how ridiculous the "evidence" against her, and no matter how much the local media has championed the prosecution.
There are exceptions. Members of her church and other friends have organized fund-raisers and other events to demonstrate their support. However, their show of decency is overwhelmed by the indecency and outright contempt for due process of law that is being demonstrated by people who are in positions of trust and authority. Many of the same people who condemned Nifong's actions and cheered when he was disbarred are willing to swallow prosecutorial and judicial conduct that is every bit as outrageous as what was seen in Durham. If they wonder how the Duke Lacrosse Case got as far as it did, perhaps they can find the answer if they just look in a mirror.