Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Times-Free Press' Disgraceful Portrayal

I guess Joan Garrett of the Times-Free Press must be burning up the line with John Madewell of Channel 9, as her account of the Tuesday hearing paints a picture of a delusional and vengeful Tonya Craft throwing mud at her ex-husband and his wife in an attempt to take her children out of a loving, nurturing home. I guess this truly misleading article is what Todd Foster meant when he said in taking the top position at the paper that the TFP would be going after "sacred cows."

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.

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.
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.

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.

"We are going to switch examiners if you can't keep it together," Williams told King.
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

YES! You did what I had hoped after I read the paper this morning. I said in the earlier thread that I keep getting angrier as each day passes & one thing that got me started first thing today was that article. I tried to put it on "ignore", but it all just kept coming to mind. Why isn't Joy Lukachik (sp?) covering this? She covered the "trial". Where is this woman coming from? Is she from outer space?

If people had never heard of this situation, is this what they would count on for their information? Wow!

Now, a troll will probably come on here & say, "oh, you didn't hear what you wanted, so you want to blast the TFP". I can see it now. So, before any trolls have the chance to do that, it comes down to facts! Facts that began many years ago & started coming to the surface in the last two. Facts that show Joal & Sarah Henke for who they are; liars, perjurers & self-righteous pigs. Funny how this woman didn't say anything about SH admitting to having sex in a hotel bathroom while the kids were in the bed right outside the bathroom. She didn't talk about JH & his father's mortgage fraud. She didn't talk about the fact that he alienated TONYA'S children from her. No, just the poor pitiful dad trying to do the right thing by his kids. Bull crap!!! (it just took everything I had not to say the other word)

It's letter writing time again. Here we go!!! Right after I finish throwing up from even referring, although sarcastically, to JH being a poor pitiful dad.


William L. Anderson said...

Thanks, UGA Mom!! Yeah, I left out stuff, but I'm working on tomorrow's econ lesson! Putting together PPT slides to explain time preference and interest (and capital volatility) does not leave time to get it all done, so I am glad you pointed out some things.

I always appreciate your posts. BTW, my wife is a UGA grad. Her freshman year was the year when Herschel put tire tracks on Bill Bates at the North End Zone.

kbp said...

Even if one made an effort to read through the article under the impression that the reporter was trying to balance the reporting (poor job if the case), you're still stuck with inaccuracies.

kbp said...

"Putting together PPT slides to explain time preference and interest (and capital volatility)

volatility: The unknown factor often created by our federal watch dawgs(!), along with the same entities in other countries.

That should be fun to teach.

volfan69 said...

I, also, allowed that article to anger me. (Note to self: stay in control of feelings.) Garrett took opinions of people and tried to present them as fact. Responsible journalism? I think not. I was very disappointed.

Speaking of trolls, I can't prove it, not that it matters, but Allison12 is a troll on this sight. I have read many of that person's comments. Yesterday that person wrote "I believe the children and the forensics." Yeah, right. Wonder what forensics that person was privy to? Anyway, because of many of his/her comments on a variety of subjects and compared them to some of the troll comments, I would put money on that person being one of the trolls. Again, not that it matters. We are all entitled to our opinions. I just don't like people putting forth opinion as fact. kbp, you left a good comment on the article. I didn't leave one because I could not do so in kindness so I just kept my mouth shut.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill! I currently don't work, so I have a little extra time on my hands. I know you try to put everything possible, but one thing I love & respect about your blog is that you address the items. You don't simply throw out information without backing it up with facts. That takes more time & space. Seeing what you're putting together for tomorrow's lesson, I'm simply amazed by you!! So don't worry. For one, you have Kerwyn who has the information on hand & will add to your blog & a few of us with a little inside info. That's one reason why I won't even go by a pseudonym except for my tag at the end, which sometimes I forget.

Also, I knew you were smart, but now you've really proven it by admitting you married one of us!!! haha! Hubby & I are classes of 93 & 94 respectively, so we were kids when Herschel did his magic, but we both remember it well. He also played a bit of football himself. :-)

Now go get ready to teach some youngsters economics!!! Tell them that some old lady said she would love to be able to attend the classes, so they better soak it up!

Anonymous said...

kbp, again, you are correct. What has to be taken into consideration is who will read that story & buy into it? I wouldn't. I actually prefer the written word so I can decipher fact from opinion. But, how many people actually do that? I don't know, but I've actually wanted to do a study on how many people look into things on a deeper level. It would be interesting.

Volfan, I'm going to read the online story and will probably make the comments you wanted to. I read the actual paper this morning, so apparently I missed out on the better stuff. AKA, the comments.

Oh, and I won't spend the 2 quarters on the TFP. My neighbor gets it & throws it over our way when he finishes.

Dennis Norwood of the Chattanoogan definitely gives a better idea of what is going on & it's free!!! :-)


Anonymous said...

such a shame!!!

I hope this judge uses her brain!!

Trish said...

So frustrating!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ms. Garrett is nothing more than a media whore working for the local slime newspaper. The TFP is not good for anything these days except putting down for the dog to do his business on.

William L. Anderson said...

Kerwyn and I just got the word from Reason Magazine that they will be using our article on the Tonya Craft case!

Anonymous said...

Way to go you two!!!! Telling you, you both have a calling! I'm very thrilled for y'all.

anon 3:06, please have faith in Judge Williams. I have many friends who do. Just keep praying for her.

Trish, I know the feeling. But thinking about it, the readership is so down with the TFP, so hopefully people will use their brains when reading it.

Everyone keep on praying!!!

UGA Mom (good gravy I've been on here all day!)

Trish said...

Bill way to go. I know UGA Mom, but all things considered, I am very frustrated that truth just doesn't matter anymore!!!!

kbp said...

Teacher Accused Of Pulling AR-15 On Teens In Court
”… Judge Moon described Swallows as a good man who had no criminal intentions. He added he also didn't have a permit to carry the AR-15 in public.”

Questions for locals there:
Do you have to have a permit to openly carry a rifle there?

Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve said...

Excellent question, KBP, and I have no idea as to the answer. Here is what I can document. It is not to be construed as legal advice or accepted as completely accurate.

The state of TN issues a Handgun Carry Permit, NOT a concealed carry permit. You can find the requirements at

Per an attorney-general’s opinion, the intent of the 1996 legislation was to allow both open and concealed carry, hence, you are not issued a CCW permit.

As for long guns, I found this

Public Chapter 431 – Loaded Rifles and Shotguns in Vehicles – This act allows a person with a handgun carry permit to possess a loaded rifle or loaded shotgun in a privately owned vehicle. The act provides that the weapon cannot have ammunition in the chamber except in the case that an individual permit holder feels physically threatened.


I interpret this to mean that you can have a rifle or shotgun in your possession but not loaded unless you feel physically threatened. YIMV.

How all of this applies to the cemetery case involving Sandra Lamb’s spawn will ultimately decided by a grand or trial jury.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Mr Anderson, You did it again.That is what I was saying why was Joy Lukachik not covering the story. If they are not careful they will lose customers.Be fair that is all I ask,

below said...

The times free press is delivered to
everyone's mail box free of charge how will they lose readership?

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. The TFP isn't free as far as I know.

And am I understanding correctly that Sandra Lamb's son was one of the kids at the graveyard? Newschannel 9 brought his name up so he must be involved in some way. Anybody know?

William L. Anderson said...

Yeah, Hayden Lamb was one of the kids.

Anonymous said...

Melydia Clewell was in court the first day. She readily acknowledged that Joal was caught in numerous lies. I signed up for twitter just so I could get her tweets "live" from the courtroom. It was stunning to compare the real-time feed to the accounts given by other reporters. The effort by Slime and others to spin this was shameful.

Anonymous said...

I am friends with the Swallows family. They are good people and this case is another travesty!! Kids can be out after curfew, doing mischief, get on the witness stand and lie to the judge and he buys their story hook, line, and sinker. What a crock!!! Stacy Swallows probably used poor judgement, but he didn't hurt any of those little jerks, but he is more than likely going to pay a huge price and these spoiled rotten rich little brats will know they got away with their crap and they will do it again!!!!!!!!! Heaven only knows what they will do next time, because they now know, there is no real justice!!!!

Anonymous said...

anon 8:28, AMEN! Moon normally doesn't give passes to punks & that's why I'm wondering what was in his head. I have friends who are friends with Stacy & think the world of him. Also, his students think very highly of him. He helps troubled kids, so why didn't they just say, "hey, no priors, you're a good man, bad call, won't happen again"? I wish him great luck to get through this & have been praying for him. Like I said, if I had been him, those kids would have had more problems. I honestly hope they soiled themselves. If one was my kid, they still wouldn't be able to sit on their hineys!

"Below", how do you figure the paper is delivered to everyone's mailbox for free? I don't get one. My neighbor has a subscription & I read his sometimes, but it's not free. Not real sure about that statement.


Kerwyn said...

What lesson would I like all of you to take from the reporting of this trial...

Next time you open the paper and read a story that makes your blood boil... STOP!!!!!!

Do the research, you, yourself. Remember the "facts" that are being reported are only facts in the eyes (or keyboard) of the reporter. If you have a fair and unbiased reporter ( I know they might exist), then the story can be trusted. The only way you can find out which reporter is credible, is to do the research, you, yourself. Then you can make a judgement as to which reporter is trustworthy.

When I say facts, I mean that. You must be ready to accept that the cause you are cheering for might be really icky under the glossy bullshit. And you must be man or women enough to stand up and say, wow I was completely wrong if the facts bear that out.

As much as some reporters want to portray the testimony as hearts and kisses for Joal and Sarah, the FACTS tell a different story. NOT my opinion, NOT my wish and NOT a vendetta against the Henke's. I don't have an agenda, I don't know them personally. What I have is facts. I have their own words, video, audio and transcribed. HOURS of testimony, where they try over and over to twist the truth and get caught. And when they get caught, they call whomever contradicts them a liar. Joal calls his own daughter a liar, Margo Williams a liar, David Craft a liar,Dr. Ann Hazzard a liar, Betty and Tony Faires liars, Diana Ellis a liar and the list goes on. Anyone and everyone that contradicts him, he states is a liar. Bluntly and bald face he does this over and over in several hundred pages of recorded testimony.

I am sorry that reporter did not feel the need to know the facts and bluntly ignore the admission of crime in order to paint this rosey picture of Joal and Sarah Henke, but all she really did, was prove she has no credibility as a reporter.

Trish said...

UGA Mom, I am very good friends with his father and step-mother. They are good people and this whole case is just wrong.

David said...

I am glad this ordeal may be nearing an end for Tonya. I hope she has custody of her children and that her children will soon find the trust and comfort that was denied them throughout this process. One final comment in light of the love fest for UGA. War Eagle!

Anonymous said...

David, it wasn't a "love fest for UGA", just a common respect we have for each other. If you'll remember, Bill is also a grad of AU also. :-P Just had to give you a little something back.

At least we can agree that Tonya deserves custody of her children & much more.