So, the TFP apparently thinks that Ms. Craft is a "sacred cow" that needs to be attacked. Conversely, Garrett and Foster try to portray a couple of perjurers -- Joal and Sarah Henke -- as wonderful, loving parents who just want what is best for their children. Thus, it is time to deconstruct this piece, which is every bit as disgusting as what Channel 9 did all through the Tonya Craft criminal trial last spring.
As I read through this piece, it strikes me that Garrett has managed to turn it into a "food fight" of "he said, she said" that makes up much of the sordid world of custody battles. Her article basically says that it is Joal's and Sarah's word against Tonya's -- as though there were no other documents in the case, and the current circuit court testimony is the only evidence available.
The story's bias is evident in its headline: "Craft's children doing fine, testimony in custody dispute shows." Granted, Garrett did not write the headline, but I believe it reflects the story. Keep in mind that the testimony did not "show" anything; some people testified who said they believed that the children were "doing fine," but there was no proof.
(From what I can see, Garrett does not need proof that the kids are OK, as she takes the word of a serial liar and adulterer and that of his friends. On the other hand, I doubt Tonya ever could "prove" her innocence to Garrett.)
The first paragraph demonstrates right away where this story is headed:
Tonya Craft's five-week trial on child molestation charges dredged up sordid, intimate details about her and her ex-husband's private lives, but some witnesses testifying in the couple's custody case say all the nastiness has not affected their children.First, the spring trial produced real-live evidence against Joal for his serial adultery, but there was no proof actually given against Tonya except for Len Gregor's accusations of her wearing a thong and Joal's patently dishonest "I just remembered" testimony in which he claimed she had a lesbian affair with Jennifer Sullivan.
But the most telling paragraph is farther down in the story, when Garrett writes:
In a $25 million federal lawsuit filed against her accusers, Craft claims her ex-husband, the entire Catoosa County government and child therapists conspired to bring a false case against her by manipulating the children who accused her.Most important, the lawsuit uses "conspiracy," but in the legal sense under federal law. Catoosa County is a defendant because Det. Tim Deal, who is being sued, is a Catoosa County employee. Nowhere in the suit does Ms. Craft claim that "the entire Catoosa County government and child therapists" were conspiring together, as though they had a huge meeting in a big auditorium and hatched out a dastardly plot.
Instead, under federal "conspiracy" laws, when people involved in lawbreaking have any kind of meeting at all, it is considered part of a "conspiracy." Yes, it is a very loose definition, but that's federal law for you.
Garrett goes on:
But during nearly three hours of questioning Tuesday, Henke said he never instigated nor drove the criminal case to court.Apparently, Garrett has read nothing of the depositions and trial testimony. She says nothing of the numerous hours that Henke spent talking to people like Sandra Lamb and the Wilsons, who were driving the whole case. She says nothing about all of the times that Henke denied Tonya and her parents visitation rights -- and that, too, is part of the record, even if the Garrett wants to ignore it.
While making the children available for interviews and court appearances and also responding to subpoenas himself, he never spoke with his children about the allegation against their mother, he testified in court.
"It wasn't mine to stop," he said. "This wasn't about me. I was concerned with anything that would be of danger to my children. I reacted with the best I knew to do at that time, which was cooperation."
As much as he hated it, when his children had questions or were upset about the case, he said he told them they had to talk with a professional therapist.
"We sheltered them from the news. We sheltered them from the media. We avoided that. They didn't see computers, television," he said.
Now, he said he wants Craft to be involved in the children's lives but doesn't want her to be more involved than he is.
The "professional therapist" of whom he speaks is Laurie Evans, who was so notorious in this case that not even the prosecution -- which openly suborned perjury -- was willing to put her on the stand as a prosecution witness. (The defense subpoenaed her as a hostile witness, and she proved to put on quite a spectacle on the stand.) It was Evans who managed to get Tonya's daughter to claim that not only had Tonya molested her, but that Tonya's mother also got in on the act, something that not even the prosecution was willing to swallow.
Garrett's biased account continued with this gem:
At times during Henke's cross-examination Tuesday, one of Craft's attorney's, Scott King, became so animated and aggressive, Circuit Court Judge Marie Williams told him he had to calm down.It would have been instructive to the readers to understand just why Scott King was zeroing in on Joal Henke, but Garrett ignored something that was very, very important.
"We are going to switch examiners if you can't keep it together," Williams told King.
Henke, as I noted in my earlier post, claimed under oath that Tonya had failed to take the children to the doctor (even for "baby care" visits) for three years, which he wanted the court to believe was "proof" of neglect.
Scott King, however, was ready and had the medical records of the children in front of him and he had Joal read the dates of the visits. You see, the official record demonstrated beyond a doubt that Henke was lying, and when Henke pretended that he was having a hard time reading those records, Scott King became aggressive in his questioning, and who could blame him? That was when Judge Marie Williams cautioned Mr. King.
Unfortunately, Garrett tried to portray Mr. King as an out-of-control lawyer attacking a loving and caring father who simply was standing up against an alleged child molester. In other words, Garrett deliberately presented a false picture of what was happening.
At this point, I admit that I have passionate feelings about this case, but those feelings are rooted in the facts of what happened. I'm angry about it because prosecutors knowingly brought false charges, prosecution witnesses committed perjury with full knowledge and encouragement of prosecutors and the judge, and the judge tried to rig a conviction.
Don't trust my word on this point. Read the material yourself. Read the depositions, the interviews with the children, the police reports, trial transcripts, news stories, and the literature on false accusations. Read Sandra Lamb's statement regarding Eric Echols, and then watch the video of her encounter with Mr. Echols and then try to reconcile the two; It cannot be done.
My point is that I don't believe in Tonya's innocence because she is attractive or because of personal relationships. I believed in her innocence long before I ever met her or talked to her. All it took was a look at the record, and I understood.
Unfortunately, Joan Garrett is not one of those people who apparently has looked at anything. In reading the article today, I get the sense that she believes that maybe, just maybe, it was a situation of Tonya Craft "beating the rap." In her view, Ms. Craft definitely is not a sympathetic character, but rather just another lowlife trying to manipulate the system to get her kids.
Yes, I know that reporters are busy (and so am I and so is everyone else), but for Garrett to give the account she did is unconscionable. If she claims that she is not familiar with the depositions and trial testimony, then perhaps she should give the trial coverage to someone who is familiar with the material. But whatever the reason, be it ignorance or malice, Garrett and the TFP have proven that they are trying their best to rival Channel 9 for the Slimy Coverage Award in this case.