RINGGOLD, Ga. — Tonya Craft says she has spent more than $500,000 for her criminal defense against 22 counts of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation.
Ms. Craft made the disclosure on the witness stand Friday while her lead defense attorney, Demosthenes Lorandos, asked her questions about the list of accusations being leveled by three young girls.
She said she’s held yard sales, sold her engagement ring and had her parents cash in their inheritance account, which would have gone to Mrs. Craft and her brother. She also said her parents refinanced their house to get money for her defense.
At one of the yard sales, she sold all of her kindergarten teaching supplies, items she had acquired over a 15-year period.
Part of the high cost of the defense, she said, is related to her decision to hire “the best” legal team and to bring in specialized experts to testify on her behalf.
Mr. Lorandos is both a lawyer and a psychologist and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Ms. Craft said she chose him for his credentials.
“If your child has cancer, you don’t go to the Minute Clinic, you go to a specialist,” Ms. Craft said on the stand.
In addition to an out-of-town legal team, Ms. Craft visited a jury consultant in New Jersey, called experts in sex-crimes defense cases all over the country and contacted the Georgia attorney general and governor for intervention.
On cross-examination, Catoosa County Assistant District Attorney Len Gregor tried to turn the tables on Ms. Craft.
“Money doesn’t buy the truth, correct?” he said, and she agreed.
“The truth isn’t some sort of commodity, a product that you buy,” he said. “The truth is not a product. ... The truth simply exists, right?”
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Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...