Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Prosecution of Tonya Craft: Channeling Mike Nifong

[Update]: The Times-Free Press has a bewildering piece regarding the SANE testimony. Here is what Joy Lukachick wrote:
A nurse testified here this afternoon that two of three children alleged to be victims of child molestation by a former kindergarten teacher showed signs of abuse.

When Sharon Anderson, a sexual assault nurse examiner, took the stand in Catoosa County Superior Court in the trial of Tonya Craft, she testified that two of the girls showed “suspicious” signs of sexual abuse.

The jury was shown graphic pictures, and Ms. Anderson testified about how she could tell the children showed signs of abnormality. Some of the jurors appeared shocked.

When one of Ms. Craft’s defense attorneys cross-examined Ms. Anderson, she said she decided what physical characteristics appeared normal and abnormal based on her experience and training.

Defense attorney Demosthenes Lorandos asked Ms. Anderson several times how she was able to say a girl showed suspicious signs of sexual abuse without clear evidence.
Indeed, there were no real injuries shown in those "shocking" pictures, and certainly NOT the kinds of injuries consistent with the things that Ms. Craft is alleged to have done. Unfortunately, when we have people in the media who believe anything a prosecutor and an "expert" witness will say, then we get these kinds of stupid stories.

By the way, Sharon Anderson (no relationship) has a two-year degree in nursing and is not a real "expert" in sexual assault by any stretch of the imagination. She is an activist, which is a totally different thing. In the Duke Lacrosse Case, the defense had lined up Dr. Ann Burgess, the founder of the SANE program to debunk the testimony of the activist SANE lined up by Michael Nifong. One wishes the Craft defense could have afforded her as well.[End Update]

Say the name "Michael Nifong," and most people will recognize him as the rogue prosecutor who gave us the infamous Duke Lacrosse Case and its fake rape charges, lying, and hiding of evidence. Now, most prosecutors to whom I have spoken want to distance themselves from this pathetic liar, but it seems that the prosecutors in the Tonya Craft trial, Len Gregor and Chris Arnt, are wanting to wrap themselves up in Nifong's mantle.

As readers might recall, early in the case Nifong claimed that DNA would lead them to the alleged rapists of Crystal Mangum, but soon enough, the state lab looking for DNA told Nifong that there would be no DNA matches with the lacrosse players. Undaunted, Nifong suddenly claimed that he did not need DNA and, in fact, DNA never really mattered at all.

The New York Times (not surprisingly) agreed with Nifong and interviewed Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, who supported Nifong:
Peter J. Neufeld of the nonprofit Innocence Project, an expert on DNA testing, said that in general, an absence of DNA evidence did not necessarily mean there was not a crime. "There have been thousands and thousands of men who have been convicted in the United States of the crime of rape without DNA and without semen," Neufeld said.
(I had my own rejoinder to this farce, given that what Nifong and Mangum were claiming could not have happened without there being DNA "left behind.")

So, we now have the trial of Ms. Craft and one of the "expert" witnesses for the prosecution is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who performed exams of three of the children who are claiming Ms. Craft molested them. As I expected, the "evidence" is inconclusive at best, yet the graphic descriptions given in the testimony do not jive with what the nurse saw.

And, as though she were channeling Nifong and Neufeld (who later apologized for his remarks), we had this from Callie Starnes' Twitter report:
Nurse: just because there is no evidence doesn't mean abuse didn't happen. Defense: But no evidence means no evidence, right?
To put the SANE's remarks in perspective, when Nifong's "expert" DNA witness, Brian Meehan, was testifying at the infamous December 15, 2006, hearing that pretty much brought down Nifong's case, Meehan agreed that there was no DNA present from any of the lacrosse players, including the three young men charged. However, Meehan concluded, that did not mean anything, since one might be able to rob a bank "and not leave fingerprints."

So, this is what we have: the prosecution claims that Ms. Craft engaged in conduct that was physically painful for these children, yet left no real evidence of sexual abuse. One would think that a person might be able to understand that girls that age have tender flesh in the vagina area, and that real injuries -- the kind that definitely would have occurred, given the level of molestation that allegedly happened -- could not be avoided. There would be no question, but long ago I learned to be wary of what some SANEs will say, especially those that already are activists.

Let's go back to the Duke case again. Tara Levicy, a nurse at Duke University Medical Center, was waiting to receive her SANE certification. She was a feminist activist and when they brought Crystal Mangum to her, Levicy was not qualified to do the exam, so she had another person do it, a female resident. However, Levicy signed the exam document as though she did it, and then proceeded to fabricate material that would enhance the whole thing.

The result was that for nearly a year, the press centered on the statement of Levicy, who claimed that what she saw in the examination "was consistent with rape," except that it really was not, and when Duke University settled with the three families of the accused players, Tara Levicy figured heavily in the mix, and the university shelled out an estimated $21 million to cover, in large part, for Levicy's criminal behavior. (Due to the explosive racial politics of the case, Levicy was not charged.)

What we have here is a SANE trying to save a case that is not worth saving. She has found nothing that would say these children had been sexually assaulted, and certainly not in the manner as has been described in court. We are dealing with lies and innuendo, and it is high time someone said what it is.

One of the reasons I am blogging so often and so intensely in this case is that when I was involved in the Duke case, I saw truth turned upside down by the authorities and by the activists. When I see what House, Gregor and Arnt, and their supporters are doing, you can bet that I will not be silent.


kbp said...

Just FYI:

I won't rule out that such crimes can happen without leaving some form of physical evidence on alleged victims, nor that conditions that some may classify as such evidence cannot be attributed to simple explanations unrelated to any crime being committed.

But, if you have 3 alleged victims being examined and counseled, something obvious should surface immediately as a result of those events.

The line of testimony reported to have come from that SANE Nurse that grabbed me, just prior to the "no evidence" cited here, was HOW she told the jury the limits of evidence apply. A paraphrase of what she stated;

'Nurse says exams do not rule out all abuse. She says some things done to children do not leave physical marks.'

It appears as if she's working to convince the jury - and may have succeeded with the reporter(!) - that this is an indication the "very suspicious" or "suspicious" findings she made are of MUCH, MUCH... greater value in determining that a crime was committed.

After her having explained she didn't have a dog in this fight, why did she not word that response to also show that even the "very suspicious" does NOT mean it's evidence that a crime was committed?

Anonymous said...

I agree with William, to the extent the first child was alluding to abuse, there would have had to have been some kind of damage to either her vagina or rectum. I don't think you could molest a child that many times without leaving some kind of damage that would be apparent upon exam. Also, it was said that some tissue was not there that should have been in a child that age. I am assuming she means her hymen, that is not proof either.

William L. Anderson said...

You have to keep in mind that the prosecution is not looking for real evidence. Had they wanted to do that, they would have checked Tonya's computer for porn, and done an investigation of her house.

No, they are doing EXACTLY what Nifong did, and so far, they are pulling it off, as dishonest as they are.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree!!

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are exposing this county for what it is. I believe in putting away criminals as much as the next person, but this is ludicrous! My family has been victim of this same kind of justice in the accidental death of a child. They didn't get it to trial, but the damage they caused was tremedous. I always thought if you just simply told the truth, things would be ok, but that is not always the case. It is sad that we have gone so far from there is no such thing as child abuse to everything must be child abuse of some kind. I know there are many children every day who are truly abused, but there are just as many false accusations as real ones. Furthermore, I don't trust anything that comes from the advocacy center, I have seen some of their work first hand and they are very good at asking children leading questions, when they don't get the answers they want. I would love to tell you my family's nightmare in Catoosa County.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Peter Neufeld, if he and Barry Scheck had forcefully spoken out against Nifong early on, the Duke Hoax might not have gotten as far as it did. At least the press might have turned against Nifong much sooner.

Didn't Neufeld and Scheck make their reputations by using DNA to show someone was innocent? They sure were willing to defend O.J. Simpson, whose DNA was all over the crime scene and that of the victims in Simpson's Ford Bronco.

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous post at 4:24... If you are referring to the JW case, you should absolutely share it. It is another prime example of the unethical operation of our Catoosa county court system.

Just a thought... has anyone tried to get this story to a national news outlet?

Anonymous said...

A very prime example!!!

William L. Anderson said...

Just a thought... has anyone tried to get this story to a national news outlet?

I am trying by working all of my contacts, and I have a few. Jacob Sullum from Reason had a post yesterday, and I am trying to get a few others. Had an email exchange with one national news figure who is a friend, and he is very interested, but we shall see.

I'm sending some stuff to some of my people from the Duke case. All-in-all, it is tough to get these folks to bite.

Anonymous said...

God bless you for your interest in this case! Please keep giving us your common sense and clear reasoning! People here in this area (I am from nearby Chattanooga) are frustrated because no one seems to notice the outrageous things that are happening in this courtroom. Have you contacted Bill O'Reilly or Greta Van Susteran? They seem to care about truth and justice. Thank you for studying this case!

William L. Anderson said...

I cannot reveal who I have contacted, but they are heavy hitters, and one is a friend. I'm going to keep knocking at the door.

I only hope that Nancy Grace and her evil sidekick Wendy Murphy don't get wind of this one. Both of them are despicable.

Anonymous said...

How about the LRC front page?

William L. Anderson said...

Lew has turned me down on that. I think he just does not want to deal with cases involving alleged sexual assault. The Duke case was more complex, and also involved higher ed.

Lew does not doubt my points, but he has made his decision, and I have to respect it. After all, it is his blog.

Anonymous said...

We have had a similar experience with Brian House and Len Greggor. Ours was with a mentally disturbed person with a weapon and not a child abuse case. Len Greggor was assigned to us as a state attorney. We ended up having to use our personal attorney to take care of the matter because of all of the underhanded, dirty, "behind the scenes" politics that took place. This occurred in the mid 90's. It is a shame that these scoundrels are still practicing!!

Anonymous said...

What is even worse was the expertise of the doctor who was the state's expert...
“How did you get your rape and sexual abuse victim training?” “I bought a book and took a couple of on-line courses.”

You have got to be kidding...

Anonymous said...

Maybe they want to win this case at all costs, because they had to drop the charges in what would have been another big case.

Anonymous said...

Yes several people have tired to get it in national news.
Thanks to Mr. Anderson for all of your info. i went to high school with tonya and this is very disturbing that someone would do this to another human being. NOT GUILTY!!

KGraham said...

Did the medical records note any additional complaints by the alleged victims to the areas the nurse regarded as "suspicious"? One would expect complaints of pain, soreness, edema, as such.

William L. Anderson said...

To KGraham:

Your points are well-taken. As I have written before, the acts that are alleged would have created a lot of serious injuries, and the statements by Sharon Anderson that the results did not "disprove" sexual assault are ingenuous.

I'm going to go further in a post today. Because I have a major academic project due this weekend, I won't be able to post like I did Thursday, but I need to address this point, especially since the articles in the Chattanoogan and Times-Free Press were totally in the tank for the prosecution and followed Sharon Anderson's logic right over the cliff.

Anonymous said...

This county is not above protecting their own either. Many years ago, a real child molestor was working at the Catoosa County jail as a jailer and he molested a 17 year old inmate. Rather then prosecute him, they just let him go from his job. The young man was probably pressured not to file charges! Years and years and many victims later, he was finally caught, but had they done what they should have, so many young lives wouldn't have been damaged. The really sad thing is lots of people knew about his "activities" but no one ever said anything. He was even allowed to be a deacon at his Church and worked with the youth, even though there were deacons who knew of his past, but thought he had been "cured". Child molestors are never cured and they don't just one day decide to become a child molestor. There is always a history, where is the history of Tonya Craft???

Anonymous said...

Would submitting the story through CNN's iReport feature be a decent vehicle for the story to be introduced on a larger level?

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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William L. Anderson said...

The reason I don't want to go to CNN is because this could end up on the Nancy Grace show, and she and Wendy Murphy would lie and fabricate material, which they did in the Duke case. Grace is a congenital liar and a bully, and I don't want to be responsible for her getting anything.

Anonymous said...

I think you should look into a very recent case that was finally dropped after a very long time. It involved the alleged murder of a child that was completely unfounded. The prosecuters and the detectives in catoosa county are not above hiding eveidence or making up evidence to suit their needs. Expose them for what they are!

Anonymous said...

Anon. 7:32 I agree!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon. 7:32. I wish the public did know about what the person and family went through that you are talking about in your post. There are so many similarities and so many lies were told, by the DA's office, by Tim Deal, and many others. Only when the State of Ga. Medical examiner (who should have been on their side) refuted the local examiners findings were those charges dropped. Sadly much damage was done to this family, damage that continues, thanks to the judicial system in Catoosa County.