It is hard to underestimate Evans' influence in this case. She was the first person to get a "disclosure" from Tonya's daughter of outright sexual assault, and it is clear that her "therapy" with the child was a major reason the girl turned against her mother. Furthermore, she continues to be a "therapist" for the other two accusing girls, the daughters of Sandra Lamb and Kelli McDonald.
Unlike many of the other "expert" witnesses for the prosecution, Evans actually has credentials, including a master's degree in social work, and is a licensed social worker in both Tennessee and Georgia. The problem that the defense had with Evans was not in her credentials; it was in her performance, which truly was a red-flag affair. That the prosecution would be willing to use her, after everything that was known about her mental health history and a number of the outright preposterous claims that she made tells us that Chris Arnt and Len Gregor are not exactly honest men.
Laurie Evans began her "therapy" with Tonya Craft's daughter and son just two months after being diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). While I cannot post her GAF score in this blog (that would violate medical privacy laws), I can say that her situation was quite bad. The problems were made known during her divorce trial, and the following things were disclosed (as part of public record) in the proceedings:
- She demonstrated "paranoid thinking" and even purchased a handgun (receiving a permit to do so)
- At the divorce hearing, her doctor testified that Evans was having "a lot of anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks"
In this state of mind, Evans soon after began to "treat" Tonya's two children. When the criminal case began in Georgia, the two children were ordered by DCFS to their father Joal Henke. Mr. Henke enrolled the "accusing" daughter in Ms. Evans’ Children’s Advocacy Center treatment process and enrolled the girl's brother into “treatment” with Ms. Evans in her Tennessee private practice.
Insofar as Henke and Ms. Craft’s divorce and custody case was originally in the Circuit Court of Hamilton County, Henke filed an emergency petition in that court and the case was assigned to the Judge Williams. Despite Henke’s objection and resistance, Judge Williams appointed Linda Hall to be the children’s Guardian ad litem.
Ms. Craft’s Tennessee attorney subpoenaed Laurie Evans’ treatment records from her treatment of the daugher and the son and set a deposition to find out what Evans was doing with Ms. Craft’s children. Evans refused to appear for the Tennessee deposition (several times) and refused to provide the records. Finally, Judge Williams ordered Evans to provide the records and comply with the discovery deposition.
It got even worse. The children’s Guardian ad litem attended both depositions and was so concerned after the first part that she petitioned Judge Williams to immediately prohibit Henke from taking the children to Evans and appoint another therapist.
At the hearing requested by the GAL in the Family case before Judge Williams (remember, just eight months earlier, Judge Williams heard expert testimony as to how ill Ms. Evans was and held Ms. Evans in Contempt); concern was raised that Ms. Evans was “ignoring subpoenas and court orders,” and it was argued that there was a great disparity between what she had written and what she said in deposition. In addition, fear was expressed that Ms. Evans was committing perjury and Judge Williams inquired whether a licensing complaint had been made.
After seeing the evidence, Judge Williams (who is hearing the current custody case between Ms. Craft and her ex-husband Henke) declared:
After reviewing the video taped/transcribed deposition of Laurie Evans, the Court concludes that Ms. Evans’ entire testimony was/is not credible; and that in addition to her lack of credibility, the Court further finds that Ms. Evans’ testimony concerning her diagnosis regarding (Tonya's son) is not supported by her written records; and further, that Ms. Evans’ testimony concerning (Tonya's daughter) was unsupported by any records which this Court has previously ordered her to produce. (Emphasis mine)Then there was an incident of perjury during a deposition on this case:
Q. All right. And forgive me for this question, but it’s one -- it’s one of these standard ones we ask everyone that didn’t get asked last time. Have you ever been treated for any mental illness or psychological disorder?Interestingly, "judge" Brian House did not permit the defense to enter any of the material shown above into the record. Why was that so, given that she had played an important role in developing the accusations against Ms. Craft? I believe that the answer is obvious; House wanted to keep as much evidence as possible from the jury that would be seen as exculpatory, and would discredit the prosecution's case.
Yet, in the end, the "not guilty" verdict was a rout.
(In future posts, I will have more information on Laurie Evans and the real damage she did to innocent people. She still practices at the Children's Advocacy Center, and despite the fact that people have filed complaints with the professional licensing boards for both Tennessee and Georgia, she continues to see clients.)