published Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Craft found not guilty

View previous stories and videos

PDF: Craft order

Video: Tonya Craft on Nightline, June 2, 2010

Video: Tonya Craft interview with Good Morning America, June 2, 2010

PDF: Tonya Craft files a $25 million lawsuit against her accusers

PDF: Complaint by Eric Echols

PDF: Complaint by Sandra Lamb

PDF: Orders on Rule 22 Request for Media Coverage

Article: Craft custody attempt hits snag

Article: Pushing state to investigate

Article: Attorney questions Craigslist investigations

Article: Prosecutor introduces claim of Craft affair

Article: Witness: Mother of alleged victim made threat

Article: Craft trial entering third week

Article: Parents of child testify in Craft molestation trial

Article: Lead investigator testifies he didn't interview fathers

Article: Second forensic interviewer testifies in molestation trial

Article: Witness testimony recounted off camera

Article: Mother of alleged molestation victim testifies

Article: Second week of craft trial begins

Article: 2 more children testify in Craft trial

Article: First child testifies in molestation case

Article: Nurse who examined three alleged molestation victims testifies

Article: Juror dismissed in Craft trial

Article: Craft was framed, lawyer says

Article: Large jury pool in Craft trial, no jury selected

Article: Child molestation cases stirring emotions

Article: Refusal to recuse stirs legal debate

PDF: Tonya Craft’s defense attorney’s request for the judge to be dismissed from the case

Article: Attorney for Craft asks judge for recusal

Article: Molestation case leads to emotional divisions

Article: Molestation trial moved to April

PDF: Tonya Craft's indictment

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Tonya Craft has been found not guilty on all 22 counts of child molestation, aggravated child molestation and aggravated sexual battery.

The jury returned the verdict after a day of deliberation.

Ms. Craft, a 37-year-old former kindergarten teacher in Chickamauga, was charged with child molestation based on the accounts of three alleged victims.

During the four-week trial, however, the little girls’ stories were called into question during cross-examination by the defense team.

At times the trial became contentious, with the defense using elaborate timelines on posterboards to poke holes in the case and the prosecution accusing the defense of playing to the media.

Some of the families and friends of the alleged victims waited in a room set aside for them in the courthouse.

See tomorrow’s Times Free Press for complete coverage.

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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sandyonsignal said...

Not guilty. Thank goodness. I am shaking and in tears from watching this verdict. So relieved. Thank you, jury.

May 11, 2010 at 5:25 p.m.
Oz said...

Justice has been served today!

May 11, 2010 at 5:28 p.m.
una61 said...

Where in Catoosa County does Ms. Craft go to get her reputation returned?

May 11, 2010 at 5:29 p.m.
GregT said...

Praise the Lord! The jury got it right! These modern day witch hunts are ridiculous!

May 11, 2010 at 5:43 p.m.
legend_XIX said...

D.A.s and judges often look for cases that will boost their careers. Either THAT case will make or break said careers. My observation and the observation of others are this case will be a career breaker for both these ADAs and the judge. Hopefully, they learn a valuable lesson in that there truly is something more powerful and greater than them in charge and at all times.

Power to Ms. Craft and her family and especially her mom and dad who stood by her and was forced to hock everything to help pay for this case.

In their arrogance, these ADAs attacked and insulted some very powerful and notable REAL experts. For sure, those REAL experts won't allow that to simply pass either.

May 11, 2010 at 5:59 p.m.
Humphrey said...

I feel sorry for the children that they got put through this, but this is the best possible outcome following the mess of a trial, imho.

May 11, 2010 at 6:22 p.m.
enufisenuf said...

Justice is served, Good for you Tonya. Not lets serve some more justice and tar nad feather House, the DA and the miserable old crows who started this miscarriage of justice with their witch hunt. ALl costs of this travesty should be born by these snobby arrogant cry babies and the county should compensate Tonya tenfold the cost of the trial for her suffering.

May 11, 2010 at 6:26 p.m.
renegade887 said...

Thank the Lord.

Tonya received something today from the jury that the despicably corrupt prosecution had been trying to bury and hide with manipulation and deceitful tactics since day one of the trial.. the TRUTH.

I believe a lawsuit is in order for wrongful prosecution, slandering, and railroading an innocent person. Along with some disbarred arrogant state attorneys.

Mr. Lenny and Mr. Christopher: start playin the lottery fellas!

May 11, 2010 at 7 p.m.

Thank God. I know how messed up Georgia and their Judges can be. That is why I moved here (Tennessee) 5 years ago...and I will NEVER live in Georgia again. Ms Craft should know...she only has 12 mths to sue the state of Georgia!!! And she really should!!!!

May 11, 2010 at 7:54 p.m.
Rkotouc said...

i knew that she was not guilty the moment i heard the kids say that after they got done with the interview they were all going to go to the spa and/or get a new toy. THANK GOD the right verdict came out.

May 11, 2010 at 9:05 p.m.
Anubis said...

As a former educator, I know about the dangers of false accusations and how lives can quickly be destroyed by them.

Despite the joy her supporters (myself included) feel because of the verdict, I just want to know who is going to make all the damage done to this innocent woman right?

Who will put her back in her job with reputation intact, back into her home, which she lost as a direct result of these false accusations?

Who will help return her children to her and who will return the lost savings of her supportive parents?

Who will erase the doubt that so many will continue to harbor and who will stop the whispers, real and imagined that Tonya Craft will hear for the rest of her life?

Justice was served in this instance, but there is no way Tonya Craft will ever get a full restoration of everything taken from her.

That is a tragedy.

May 11, 2010 at 9:11 p.m.
moonpie said...

The prosecution never had a case. They had accusations. But they had no case.

Given the arguments on both sides, this was the only reasonable conclusion to this trial.

Only Tonya Craft and God know for sure what really happened with these kids, and that is sad. The rest of us can only have our very strong suspicions.

It is likely that these children will have memories that will haunt them, no matter how they were put there.

If you are a parent of one of these children and there was indeed no crime ever committed, then you have committed multiple atrocities: against Mrs. Craft, against your community, against abused children everywhere, but especially against your own children.

My sincere prayer tonight, before I go to bed, is that all of you involved in this trial, will find a way to heal and will find some peace.

May 11, 2010 at 9:44 p.m.
legend_XIX said...

Here's an excerpt from Looks like some heads(three to be exact) are about to rolllllllllllll and roll BIG TIME! "The amazing ordeal with the corruption that caught up these little girls and this wonderful woman has begun to end with a verdict from 12 people honest and true," said Craft's attorney, Demosthenes Lorandos, in a phone call with The Associated Press.

He said he and Craft's other attorneys have contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. attorney's office about what he called the "fraudulent" behavior of Judge Brian House and the Catoosa County district attorney's office during the case.

Questions have been raised about the fairness of a trial in front of House, who helped represent Craft's ex-husband in the couple's divorce in the 1990s. Defense attorneys filed a motion seeking the judge's recusal, but he refused to step down.

Prosecutor Chris Arnt also raised eyebrows when he posted on his Facebook page in January that Craft's defense lawyers "are really insane or just trying to jack up her defense bill," according to news reports.

Arnt and other officials from the district attorney's office did not immediately return a call for comment after Tuesday's verdict. House declined comment because he said he had "no idea" what Lorandos was talking about.

House also declined to comment on why he had refused to step down from the trial."

I honestly believe these three had done this so often and to so many people they came to believe themselves invincible, untouchable and arrogant with it. How many other victims? Hopefully, all cases they ever presided over will be thoroughly looked into, and also the parents actions and the CAC and what cahooting rolls said CAC may have played in all this.

May 11, 2010 at 9:50 p.m.
kittymeow said...

Im glad the jury showed more brains than Judge House. I wish Ms. Craft the best of luck trying to rebuild her life after this horrible ordeal. To respond to legend_XIX, if the FBI and the US attorney's office do investigate I hope they find the evidence to throw out Judge House and investigate the mother's of the "victims" they are the real criminals that should be tried and they should lose their parental rights for abusing their children and using them as puppets.

May 11, 2010 at 10:33 p.m.
OldUncleMel said...

There was child abuse, but not by Ms. Craft. This kind of abuse also can have lasting effects on children. They may have learned the power of "bent" truths and outright lies. I have known of some children who did act (and and even now acting) on this new found power. Maybe witness (the children) tampering charges should be filed to see where the trail leads. That trail could lead way beyond the Parents or the DA. The real criminal should be found, made to repay Ms. Craft (and the Court cost), and punished. Lawsuits should also be considered. Probably not against the School System or the community, because their hands were tied. The School System (and the community) should consider some sort of help for Ms. Craft.

May 11, 2010 at 10:50 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

A fairly quick verdict by the jury on a somewhat long and controversal trial. The defendent was found found not guilty, but however her reputation has been ruined, not mention the great financial strain of attorney costs. The state and possible federal officials should look into this case and make sure no laws were broken on the prosecution side (i.e. possible parental motives, investigators, social workers, judical conduct, etc.) to help ensure a tainted investigation and trial like this does not happen again. Interesting how quiet the people that wanted to hang the defendant are now that a jury of her peers quickly found her not guilty. Like it was said before, only the defendant and the children involved really know what happened. Justice was served in the legal system, however, that does not restore the defendant's reputation. Sad overall, for the defendant, and the children that were put through this mess.

May 11, 2010 at 10:54 p.m.
wardenerd said...

In Edenton North Carolina we had a case almost identical in the prosecutorial misconduct and the obvious bias of the judge. In our case which is a black shame on this state 4 people went to jail and they were held without bond for at least a year before the trial started. One of the defendents never set foot in the day care in question and was implicated only by a child who was driven around the town trying to identify a boat from which the defendent killed a baby and fed it to sharks in the river by Edenton. His only connetcion to the case was that hhis boat was parked in his driveway. No child was ever reported missing and no physical evidence of the heinous crimes ever surfaced. Law Enforcement also implied that charater witnesses were subject to intense scrutiny as conspirators. So many people were accused that the children even identified the local sheriff as a molester. At that point the children were just confused according to local law enforcement. . These confused children and their parents were started on their witch hunt when a child of an influential family was disciplined at the day care. Sounds strangely familiar doesn't it? you can watch 2 PBS specials on this case under the title Innocents Lost.

May 11, 2010 at 11:29 p.m.
wardenerd said...

As a former Justice Department employee Ms. Craft has no chance of sueing the judge or attourneys. They are members of a bueracracy that will join ranks even when they are wrong.

May 11, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.
chevelle71guy said...

I jumped on my laptop and can't find out any new updates on this...Just curious what happened?

April 5, 2011 at 6:46 p.m.
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