Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
-- Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.
Part I: The Original April 14 Allegations
One of the difficulties that prosecutors face in presenting evidence that involves a lot of different people is making sure the story is fairly straight and consistent. Even if everyone involved believes to what they are testifying, and even if everyone is attempting to tell the truth, there are bound to be inconsistencies with a large number of people.
What happens, however, when these witnesses are part of a larger frame on behalf of prosecutors? Coordinating the testimonies of people who have fabricated reams of material is even more difficult, and a potential train wreck always looms. In the trial of Tonya Craft, that train wreck occurred right as the trial began, on April 14, when (Accuser #1), Sandra Lamb's "child actress" daughter testified. This account appeared in The Chattanoogan:
“She stuck her fingers in my vagina and it hurt,” the young witness said clearly. When asked did anything else happen, the little girl answered, “She stuck her fingers (making a hand gesture as to how) up my back part.” When asked, she replied that it had also hurt.As defense attorney Demosthenes Lorandos wrote in a May 17, 2010, criminal complaint to U.S. Attorney Sally Yates, the "child accuser" detonated what was the judicial equivalent of a major explosion:
At trial April 14, 2010 (Accuser #1) testified that after the June 4th, 2008 interview (with Suzi Thorne of the Greenhouse) was completed...after she had been asked sixteen times if there was "anything else?"...(Accuser #1) was walking down the hallway with interviewer Suzi Thorne and "just remembered" that Miss Tonya put all four fingers together with her fingers and thumb, penetrated (Accuser #1's) vagina. This was quite a shock to the Defense. There was absolutely no documentation of this conversation in any file, document, report or summary. (Emphasis theirs)One has no idea if this child had rehearsed this line with her mother or prosecutors or if she simply blurted it out on her own. Nonetheless, the prosecution had some explaining to do, and Chris Arnt and Len Gregor apparently were up to the challenge.
(The defense did object to this testimony, given it had not appeared in any of the discovery materials, but -- surprise, surprise -- "judge" Brian House overruled the objections and permitted the child to continue to embellish her story.)
Before examining how the prosecutors decided to handle this hot potato, keep in mind that the child was describing a vicious sexual assault that would have created major physical damage, the kind that had not been discovered in any physical exam she had taken. The CAC SANE Sharon Anderson already had testified, and while she had claimed to have witnessed potential damage to the young girl's vagina, nonetheless the kind of injury that this alleged "hand rape" would have caused would have been obvious, not "highly suspicious."
Thus, the prosecution was already in trouble, as one of its "star" witness had pushed them into a corner. She had alleged an event that was so violent that the injuries would have been evident immediately. Furthermore, this alleged event was not in any of the prosecution's materials, which meant that unless prosecutors came up with a plausible story, then anyone who suspected the whole thing was a frame would have been given even more ammunition.
There were two possible reactions that Arnt and Gregor could have made to the child's bombshell. The first one would have been for them to have told House that this account surely was exaggerated, and that there was no physical evidence to back up the claim. They would have reasoned that children sometimes are carried away and that the jurors should understand that child witnesses can exaggerate, but that the exaggeration did not take away from the "truth" of her allegations. In other words, had House and his tag team of prosecutors been thinking clearly, they would have let the objection stand and back off this horrendous claim.
However, they decided that if they were in for a dime, they were in for a dollar, and one can understand their thinking, as deceitful and dishonest as it was. These are people who are used to having their own way, and House always was happy to stick it to the defense. Furthermore, most likely they figured that these "shocking" allegations would further prejudice the jury.
The problem was that they now had the child making a claim that had not been documented anywhere, and it would have been hard to explain to a jury or to anyone else why such a seemingly important piece of evidence had been ignored. So, after the girl made the audacious claim, the prosecution went to Plan B: the adults would tell even more lies.
Part II: Sherri Wilson to the Rescue
The prosecution had one advantage: it was illegally keeping its witnesses in a "secret room" in the courthouse in which the witnesses could congregate, compare notes, and work on their stories. As an insider told me:
The prosecution has set up a room for the prosecution witnesses (Greg and Sandra Lamb, Dewayne and Sheri Wilson, Jerry and Kellie McDonald, Joel Henke and others...) where they are allowed food and drinks... are allowed cell phones and books. Furthermore, they have their own entrance to the courthouse... and do not have to go through security when entering the building.Keep in mind that witnesses are not supposed to be congregating before they give testimony, but that precisely is what the prosecutors arranged for the prosecution witnesses and their supporters in this trial. Furthermore, even though these witnesses were put together in a most cozy and privileged situation, they STILL had trouble getting their stories straight.
The first witness to try to patch the hole created by (Accuser #1) was Sherri Wilson, who testified for the prosecution on April 19. Here is part of the account from The Chattanoogan:
Once back at the Wilson residence the two sat on the sidewalk and the young girl told Ms. Wilson that Miss Tonya “had touched her on her privates." Ms. Wilson formed her fingers and thumb and made an up and down motion to indicate how the girl said it happened. (This "disclosure" allegedly occurred on May 24, 2008, and the date will be crucial, as readers shall see.)Again, the hand motion that Wilson used was one in which the damage to the vagina of a young girl would have been horrendous, and certainly was something that would have caused a lot of pain, bleeding, and other symptoms. With Wilson supposedly having been told about this terrible assault, the defense, while cross-examining her, made the following point, as Dennis Norwood described in The Chattanoogan:
Ms. Wilson, a paramedic who co-owns Angel Life Support emergency services with her husband Dewayne, could not recall whether or not she was required to report sexual assault as a first responder, saying, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to report.”Indeed, one would think that Wilson would have been derelict in her duties had she actually learned of a sexual assault in which a woman allegedly shoved her fingers and thumb into the vagina of a little girl. This is not garden-variety "digital penetration." No, this is an out-and-out "hand rape," and one that would have physically and psychologically scarred the child. Furthermore, I doubt seriously if Wilson actually was ignorant of the reporting requirements of the law, and if she was telling the truth when she claimed to have "no idea what I'm supposed to report," then she and her medical operation need to be investigated by state authorities for dereliction of duty.
According to Georgia law all medical personnel are considered as mandatory reporters and failure to do so is a misdemeanor crime. Ms. Wilson testified that she never reported the allegations of the alleged victim to law enforcement personnel, although she did call Detective Steve Keith, a personal friend, to see what the first step would be if her daughter had been assaulted.
Nonetheless, there are two troubling facts that make it plain that Wilson was committing perjury:
- In all of the notes and documentation of the case, Sandra Lamb never once mentioned this particular assault, despite the fact that Wilson claims that she was informed about this alleged incident in the presence of Lamb and her child. One would have thought that a distraught mother would have made something like this front-and-center in her allegations. It does not seem plausible that Wilson would have known about this but Lamb would have been ignorant of it.
- The first time this alleged incident supposedly was "disclosed" was during an interview with Suzi Thorne at the Greenhouse in Dalton on June 4, 2008. People who are familiar with the calendar know that May 24, 2008, comes before June 4, 2008.
There are other red flags as well. According to the police notes, Dewayne Wilson, Sherri's husband, allegedly contacted Det. Steven Keith on May 24, 2008, but reported only "inappropriate touching." Moreover, in none of the subsequent interviews with Thorne, Holly Kittle, and Laurie Evans, is the so-called "hand rape" mentioned at all, which simply makes no sense, given the violence of the alleged incident.
While it is true that much of the prosecution's case bordered on the bizarre or worse, this event stands out, as incredible as that might be. As one SANE told me, given the size of Ms. Craft's hand, the idea that she could jam her fingers and thumb into the vagina of a girl of kindergarten age without it causing bleeding and other trauma is ludicrous. Sandra Lamb surely would have noticed blood on her daughter's underwear in the aftermath of this alleged assault. However, as ridiculous as this story might be, nonetheless, the prosecution decided to run with it, enlisting the Thorne in its attempt to prop up what was becoming the Big Lie.
Part III: Suzi Thorne "Just Remembers"
By this point in the trial, the prosecution was in trouble, and in more trouble than Arnt and Gregor might have realized. However, Suzi Thorne's testimony was significant both in what she said, and what the prosecutors did not ask. I noted in my first post on Thorne's testimony that the perjury was obvious, but it is important to note that Thorne's claim of the phantom June 4 "disclosure" came in response to defense cross-examination, not on direct questioning from the prosecutors.
If that sounds strange, there is a reason for it, as Dr. Lorandos in his criminal complaint to Sally Yates explains:
At trial April 20th Children's Advocacy Center interviewer Suzi Thorne testified that after the June 4, 2008 interview, and after she asked (Accuser #1) sixteen times if there was "anything else?" that child remembered; (Accuser #1) came into her office where she was writing her report of the interview [(Accuser #1) had testified six days earlier that she and Suzie were walking down the hallway after the interview when Accuser #1 "remembered"]. Ms. Thorne testified that (Accuser #1) told her that Tonya had inserted her fingers into her vagina -- and (Thorne) gestured just as (Accuser #1) and Mrs. Wilson had. This was another shock to the Defense. There was absolutely no documentation of this conversation in any file, document, report or summary. It is noteworthy here to explain that the State Prosecutor explicitly refrained from asking this interviewer in his direct examination anything whatsoever concerning the after the interview "remembering." Obviously, to ask a question one knows will elicit perjured testimony is virtually automatic disbarment. (Emphasis theirs, boldface type mine)However, the damage was done, and on top of that, the defense was complaining loudly that there had been no documentation of this "hand rape." What to do? The prosecution decided that its only hope was a deus ex machina rescue, and Det. Tim Deal was up to the task.
Part IV: Tim Deal's Magic File
The trouble that began with the extra-curricular testimony of Sandra Lamb's former child actress daughter reached its zenith with the appearance of Det. Tim Deal, who attempted to put a paper cover over what was proving to be a giant sinkhole. (During Deal's testimony, Gregor asked if the defense was "lying" about the prosecution's lack of documentation, which proves that at least the guy has chutzpah.)
Yes, Deal claimed to have found the very documentation that had been missing, and it must have been under the defense's nose all the time, which is what elicited Gregor's question about lying. (Again, keep in mind that Gregor was accusing the defense of lying about the perjury being committed by the prosecution. One needs a program to keep up with this nonsense.)
Again, Dr. Lorandos in his complaint puts it into perspective:
At trial April 21st and 22nd 2010 lead Detective Tim Deal testified that his file in the past was in the same condition and with the same documentation "as it is today." Whereupon he produced an Investigative Summary authored by him and Allegedly Dictated 07-08-08 / Allegedly Typed 07-27-08 In this summary, although he was not present for the June 4th, 2008 (Accuser #1) interview, Detective Deal wrote -- "After the interview, (Accuser #1) came back in to speak with Suzie. (Accuser #1) thanked Suzie for allowing her to speak with her and stated that there was something else that she did not tell Suzie. (Accuser #1) then told Suzie that Tonya had inserted her fingers into her vagina and it felt bad." This was another shock to the Defense. This document was absolutely not in the material turned over in discovery nor was it in the material two defense attorneys poured over, a month before trial. (Emphasis theirs)One should keep in mind that it is a federal crime to make false statement in documents given to federal officials, so Dr. Lorandos, in filing this complaint, was placing his own liberty and career in jeopardy if he believed these statements to be false or if he was being reckless or careless with the truth. That means that he was willing to risk everything he had in order to tell Ms. Yates that neither he nor the other defense attorneys had received the document that Deal magically produced in court during his testimony.
Yes, in this post I am claiming that (Accuser #1), Wilson, Thorne, and Deal committed perjury, and that both Arnt and Gregor suborned perjury. The discrepancies in the testimonies AND in the dates that were alleged are such that there is no other way to interpret these events, unless one believes that all of these events occurred in a parallel universe. Perjury is a felony, which means that the case against Tonya Craft actually did find people committing felonies, but it was the accusers who were lying under oath, not Ms. Craft.
During his closing arguments, Arnt deliberately misrepresented the testimony of Dr. Nancy Fajman, who examined the photographs taken by Sharon Anderson. (Dr. Fajman, as readers recall, said that she saw no damage to the private areas of the three girls who testified against Ms. Craft.) My sense is that Arnt was attempting to keep the "hand rape" lie alive by trying to convince jurors that there really was serious injury that could have been caused by this phantom assault.
Furthermore, it also is clear that if these witnesses were committing perjury, then the prosecution suborned perjury, and the punishment for that is supposed to be disbarment. Whether or not the Georgia State Bar is willing to act is another matter for another post.
Note: I will not be making any new posts over the weekend. However, Monday's post will deal with how Suzi Thorne took statements from Tonya Craft's daughter about her mother putting medicine on her bottom (to deal with rashes because of stomach illnesses and subsequent diarrhea) and turned that act into sexual assault.
Thursday, I listened to Kerwyn read me a transcript of the interview that Thorne had with Tonya's daughter, and it was unbelievable hearing just how Thorne manipulated this little child, tied her into knots, and convinced her that her mother's act of putting medicine on the child's bottom and vagina was bad, thus turning this girl against her mother. Apparently, the sterling "investigators" with the Children's Advocacy Center believe that changing diapers or putting medicine on private places -- something parents do for their young children on a regular basis -- actually is sexual assault.
The child presented NO evidence of sexual abuse, none. The transcripts show a child becoming frustrated as Thorne repeatedly -- and deliberately -- twists what the girl is saying, driving her to frustration and tears. Should one doubt the very bad intentions of the CAC crowd, just read the transcript and you will see what I mean. The Monday post will demonstrate, I believe, just how bad the faith really was.