I see little respect coming from the north Georgia judicial and law enforcement officials for the jury that found Tonya Craft innocent. Instead they are now whining that the jury, Mrs. Craft, the defense team and the media will make it more difficult to convict someone of child molestation.
My conclusion is quite the opposite. The jury's decision will assure better prosecutions. If we saw anything in the trial it was a powerful lesson in how not to prosecute those accused of molestation. This was clear all the way from the bench to prosecution lawyers and from the first day to the last day.
No one could be more enraged by pedophilia than I am. But each day of the trial as I read the newspaper and listened to the TV accounts, my indignation grew until it was a slow burn anger against abuse of power and a return of the lynching mentality.
The most disturbing thing is not that future molesters may go free because of the verdict but that no one involved in the prosecution has learned a thing. They are indignant that the jury and the public were enraged and nauseated at their performance.
To return them to the holy arms of sanity, let them go back and read the day-to-day blogs of their own neighbors in north Georgia that they "serve," using the word loosely in regard to this case. As a former elected official, I will flatly state that if a comparable number of people blogged their disgust with me for weeks and weeks, and were horrified at my actions, I would move to Montana and graze with the buffalo.
One thing I particularly resent is blaming their loss on "the media." Before they cranked up their media cop-out, I had privately expressed to several friends my pride in the great job Joy Lukachick did for the Times Free Press. It was a solid reportorial job and I saw no bias in the Chattanooga TV news channels. Talk radio got rowdy at times but that is the nature of talk radio and those who were rowdy against Mrs. Craft also had their say.
I think it was one of the law enforcement officials who lamented that children might be reluctant to report abuse after seeing what happened in this case. After raising two children and teaching many more from kindergarten to adolescents, I can tell you that they usually respond best to the simple truth. In fact, they respond better than adults because adults have a headful of prejudices, preconceptions and ego tentacles in charge of their brain.
For one thing, talking about this or any legal case gives parents a chance to explain the American system of justice. The outstanding features of that system are that anyone can accuse anyone of anything at any time but they must be shown to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is also true that under that system guilty people can remain free and innocent people can be convicted. The system must be judged by its overall efficiency.
I will be happy when some of the principals in this case stand before the ultimate jury -- the voters of north Georgia. Finally, they will either see the light or at least, feel the heat.
E-mail Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.