published Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Molestation trial moved to April

The trial of a former Chickamauga, Ga., kindergarten teacher charged with child molestation, scheduled to start Monday, has been moved to April, court records show.

One of Tonya Craft's attorneys, Clancy Corvet, said Wednesday that the trial was moved because another defense team member, Cary King, had a family problem.

"There has been a serious illness in the King family and the judge and the prosecutor were very compassionate," Mr. Corvet said.

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brian House moved the trial to April 12, his assistant, Michael Caldwell said.

Ms. Craft faces 22 counts of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated child molestation and child molestation involving three children, court records show.

Since being charged on June 11, 2008, Ms. Craft has lost her job, home and custody of her two children, she said during a recent television interview.

Judge House issued a gag order March 4 forbidding prosecutors, defense attorneys and "persons affiliated" with the case from talking about it.

Ms. Craft has maintained her innocence and her friends have started a Web site called www.truthfortonya.com.

Several friends and supporters hosted a fundraiser for her Wednesday night at Foodworks in Chattanooga, said Kellie Graham, of Chickamauga. Ms. Graham said she helped organize the event to show support for the teacher.

"My children went to the school she taught at," Ms. Graham said. "I felt like she was a good teacher."

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Molestation case leads to emotional divisions

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

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 ...

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