Well, Tonya, you and the "Dream Team" really did it. This case is over, but it never will be over, not for the rest of your life. Yet, it is up to you to take revenge in the best way possible: living well.
I cannot imagine what you have gone through, and how utterly hard it must have been when reporters were knocking on doors in your old neighborhood asking people if they knew that a "child molester" lived nearby. You declared your innocence, but few believed, and, to be frank, few wanted to believe.
We live in the Age of the Almighty Prosecutor, and the prosecutors of the Lookout Mountain Judicial District have run their offices as though they were fiefdoms, taking challenges from no one. They targeted you and the rest, well, is history.
That utter moment of relief does not make up for what you must have felt during those awful days, when your name was being destroyed by the likes of Channel 9 reporters, which apparently decided from the start that you were guilty and became essentially the PR wing of the prosecutors. Nor can it make up for what you have lost in all of those days in which you could not be with your children. The lost income, the losing of your house, and the losing of nearly everything else must define those days in large part.
However, what they could not take away from you was your own spirit and determination and your will to fight these false charges. You would not give up, and that is why you are standing as a free woman today.
I can only imagine what it was like when people turned their backs on you, and when the gossip flowed like water in a baptismal pools. (Actually, much of the gossip DID come from people who attend churches with nice, big baptismal pools, and where gossip supposedly is sin.) I can only imagine what it was like when that psychopath Nancy Grace told you that you were guilty. Why? Well, you were charged with a crime, and for people like Grace and her good friend Wendy Murphy, that is all it takes.
Good grief, the people who were against you seemed legion. Baptist churches of Northwest Georgia sent people to back the prosecutors and even a high-profile employee of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes took part in going after you. (Note to athletes in the Chattanooga area that are Christians: Think twice before having anything to do with an organization that preaches the Bible, yet violates it in the worst possible way.)
But you continued to fight, and you made that important trip to Michigan to find Dr. Demosthenes Lorandos, and by doing so, brought The Real Man (as opposed to the narcissistic prosecutor at the other table who refers to himself as "The Man") into the courtroom. Men like Dr. Lorandos are rare, indeed, and they are formidable in legal circles, even when they are hog-tied in a courtroom as was Dr. Lorandos and the rest of your lawyers.
Before we speak of the aftermath, let us revisit that "House" of Horrors known as an alleged courtroom where you had to park yourself for the last month. What was done to you was criminal: no other word will suffice. Indeed, if you want to know where the REAL conspiracy was centered, it was in that courtroom, as a judge and his two henchmen conspired time and again to deprive you of your civil rights to a fair trial.
Let me be more specific. House, Arnt, and Gregor were not guilty of overzealousness or even bad judgment. What they did was much, much worse because they teamed up to keep much of the evidence that would have exonerated you out of the courtroom. They harassed your witnesses and then called your four expert witnesses, who are well-respected in their fields (to put it mildly), "whores" and liars.
In a real courtroom with a real judge, a number of witnesses for the prosecution would not have been permitted to give their "I just remembered" testimony. In a real courtroom with a real judge, Joal Henke's sudden "recovered memory" of some alleged lesbian activities on your part would not have been told to the jury. In a real courtroom with a real judge, Tim Deal could not have claimed to be the detective who had witnessed the deus ex machina revelation to Suzi "I Don't Remember" Thorne when nothing like it had been entered into discovery.
In a real courtroom with a real judge, There is no way that "The Man" could have been permitted to engage in the kind of cross-examination (Lord, that word gives dignity to the racist-sexist show put on by Facebook's partner) that you faced just last Friday afternoon. In a real courtroom with a real judge, "He's on cross," or "He's on closing" would never have come from the mouth of the person wearing the black robes. In a real courtroom with a real judge, the prosecutors would not have been allowed to call your respected expert witnesses "whores" and liars.
A while back, a friend of mine was on trial in federal court in Brooklyn in a very high-profile financial misconduct case. Like you, he had some very good attorneys, and like you, the prosecution had a very weak case. Unlike you, he had a no-nonsense judge (age 75) presiding who kept both prosecutors and the defense attorneys on a short leash.
While the trial was going on, I told my friend that the legal show he was seeing was so interesting and entertaining that it was easy to forget the prosecutors wanted to have him put away for the rest of his life. As in your trial, his attorneys put the prosecutors on their heels from opening statements, and in the end, both of you heard a jury declare those wonderful words: "Not guilty."
So, where from here? First, you need a rest, if that is possible. (No, you sure as heck won't get a rest today in the Big Apple making the rounds of the talk shows.) But I mean more than just a "rest" in which you get some sleep or head for a spa for a week.
No, I mean something much deeper. You and your husband, David, have been through the marital equivalent of nuclear war, but now the smoke is clearing and the radiation dissipating. Still, there are dangers aplenty. Furthermore, there are the child custody battles (although a man who would commit perjury on the stand to frame an innocent woman of child molestation should not have custody of ANY children, even his own), and future lawsuits, of which I will speak shortly.
Furthermore, you are Suddenly Famous, and while that may mean money and other things that come with it, nonetheless this kind of quick fame has its downside, and you have to recognize the problems even before they make an appearance. You have a very good head on your shoulders, and I can guarantee you that you need to put that brain on high alert as you move into the time when people everywhere recognize your name.
Nonetheless, you and David need to work out this aftermath, for I promise you that these experiences will continue to bring challenges to your relationship. That is where your friends, family, and church family come into play. There are a lot of people who know you who want this marriage to succeed as long as both of you inhabit the earth, and you will find them as great a resource in that area as you found them to be a source of real strength as they stood behind you despite the charges you face.
As I mentioned before, there is the battle for your children. They do not need to stay in the Henke household for another minute, as both Joal and Sarah were willing to commit perjury to ruin your life. ("Matted hair"? Yeah, right.) While it will be strenuous, nonetheless I believe you will be successful there, too, as no court and no judge in the Chattanooga area is going to disregard you now.
And, now the lawsuits. This should be interesting. While judges and prosecutors have strong immunity (but not total immunity, although in real life it seems that way), the police and the "investigators" of the Children's Advocacy Centers in North Georgia are wide open. I only hope the CAC's "Casino Night" fund-raiser on Friday nets the organization lots and lots of dollars so that lots and lots of dollars can flow from them to you.
I cannot imagine the rich lawsuit targets that exist, and they are going to take up a goodly part of your life for a while. Furthermore, justice is not easily gained; the three wrongly-indicted Duke Lacrosse players still await even the discovery phase nearly three years into their original suit. That is the reality of civil courts, so you have to keep that in mind.
Nonetheless, I believe that some people need to be held accountable, as they were NOT held accountable during this whole disgusting process. There is no way that someone as incompetent and dishonest as Laurie Evans should have been allowed to speak to your children, and the fact that she was a prized "investigator" with the CAC tells us that it is an organization that values lies over the truth.
If you bring action against these malevolent people, you not only will be helping to restore your good name, but you also will be protecting FUTURE families, as these are the kinds of people who are quick to allege abuse where it did not happen. For all of their talk about "selflessness" and "protecting children," no one should forget that the more accusations they make, the more money the government gives them through the Mondale Act. There just is too much abuse of truth and of the system for these people to be permitted to act as though nothing happened.
Accountability is vital here, and you can assure yourself and everyone else that you are suing these people because they were permitted to assault your reputation, you family, and your freedom. Indeed, these things happened precisely because no one in the legal system held the Usual Suspects to any accountability at all.
So, no, you are not a "gold digger," although some will call you that. Heck, you can take that. After all, many of the same people before were calling you a child molester.
You cannot imagine the things you have accomplished through your courage, your faith in God, your endurance, and your will literally to live. You have brought down a racket in which prosecutors claiming they were "protecting children" could go to the CAC for "one-stop prosecutorial shopping," get all of the "expert" testimony you needed, and Tim Deal would try (although not very well, frankly) to put all of it together into a semi-coherent narrative.
The media loved these "heroes," and anyone targeted could not stand up to them. So, because of this racket (no other word really suffices), innocent people go to prison, the press lionizes Facebook and The Man for ridding the district of "child molesters," and the players get their Mondale Act money.
And then you came along with your attorneys (Lord bless them) and threw a nice, big bomb into the whole thing and blew it up, exposing the lies and corruption. For all of the legal talk, let me tell you what you just did: You busted up probably the biggest and most virulent crime ring in North Georgia.
Forget the meth labs and the secret pot plants. The real criminal conspiracy lies with the prosecutors, the police, and the CAC, and all are in a state of shock today. All because you fought back with dignity, grace, and your willingness to bring a gun to a knife fight.
So, enjoy the day, and enjoy your fame. You deserve it, and then there is the rest of your life to live. Better to live it as a free woman than one who is incarcerated.