RINGGOLD, Ga. -- A Walker County Sheriff's Office detective testified Wednesday she had looked into an allegation involving the stepmother of an alleged victim in the Tonya Craft trial in 2008.
Detective Caroline Cobb, a defense witness, testified that Ms. Craft had told Sheriff Steve Wilson about allegations involving the third alleged victim and her stepmother.
Ms. Craft, a former Chickamauga Elementary teacher, is charged with 22 counts of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation. The charges involve three children.
Flipping through her notebook to find the correct date, Detective Cobb said the sheriff called her on April 3, 2008, "and asks me if I would call and talk to Tonya."
Ms. Craft reported that the child, then 6, had confided that her stepmother had acted inappropriately, including taking showers with the child and shaving her own genital area in the child's presence, Detective Cobb said.
She turned the case over to the Department of Human Services and the Hamilton County Sheriff's office because the alleged incidents occurred in Tennessee. The Walker County Sheriff's Office didn't substantiate the case, Detective Cobb said.
"Did they find she wasn't doing it?" defense attorney Scott King asked.
Staff photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free Press - The Catoosa County Courthouse in Ringgold is the scene of the trial of Tonya Craft.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt objected, saying Detective Cobb did not file that report. Superior Court Judge Brian House upheld the objection.
The stepmother testified in the second week of the trial that the two showered together because the child needed help bathing. She said she didn't shave with the child in the shower.
The stepmother also testified she didn't know about Ms. Craft's allegations until May 2008, when she found out Ms. Craft was being investigated.
During cross-examination, Mr. Arnt asked Detective Cobb, a forensic interviewer for the Walker County Sheriff's Office, about the credibility of several of his prior witnesses.
Detective Cobb said she had worked with all the Children's Advocacy Center interviewers who talked with the three children in the Craft case. She said she trusted them with her cases.
Other defenses witnesses Wednesday were current or former Chickamauga Elementary School employees who testified Ms. Craft had a good relationship with the three children at school.
In cross-examination, prosecutors pointed out that most of the witnesses never has seen Ms. Craft interact with the children at her home, only at school.
Former first-grade teacher Kim Parvin said she taught the first alleged victim in 2006-07 and the second alleged victim in 2008-09.
Ms. Parvin told the jury that her pupils were required to keep a journal. The first child was very personal and wrote down her feelings but never mentioned Ms. Craft, she said.
The second child was shy at first, Ms. Parvin said, and had a hard time keeping up with her studies. Ms. Parvin said she knew the girl was in counseling for part of the year.
The child's behavior and schoolwork improved after counseling, she said.
In cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Len Gregor pointed out that just because Ms. Parvin didn't see anything suspicious with the girls and Ms. Craft doesn't mean it didn't happen.
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Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...