On March 15 in my neck of the woods, a trial is scheduled to begin.
The defendant is facing 22 charges, including multiples of child molestation, aggravated child molestation, and aggravated sexual battery.
She (yes, she) was arrested in 2008. Her school (Chickamauga elementary) promptly fired her.
Simplifying and summarizing, she’s alleged to have had three children over (one of whom was in her class) from 2005-2007 (yes, over three years) to her house. While they were there she supposedly did several things to include, ummm, “stimulation with her fingers”. (That’s the aggravated. Sticking fingers in is only sometimes rape – rape being such a LEGAL term, doncha know.)
Needless to say, this kindergarten teacher took a LOT of crap in this southern community. But – and you knew there was a but – things are a bit more interesting now.
Let’s point first to the fact her trial is almost two years after the arrest. That happens, but it’s surprisingly less common than you’d think for these types of arrests. (Let me put it this way. There’ve been seven area teachers arrested since then for similar charges. All but one is serving time now. That one was arrested last month.)
Then there’s the tale of the polygraph. The sheriff’s department, when speaking of the case, said among other things she refused a polygraph. Now, polygraphs can’t be used in court unless both sides agree, but still they can be used in the investigation as indicators. HOWEVER, there’s a fly in this ointment. See, there were not one but TWO separate polygraphs given. The defense wanted them included in the trial, the prosecution objected, evidence not admitted. By the way, while defense is who paid for it, the people who ran it are the ones the sheriff’s department uses as its contract service. Prosecution REALLY doesn’t want to introduce claims against the company given a lot of OTHER cases running around.
The most recent big deal in this was the gag order. See, the other day prosecution requested and court ordered silence on the case, served against the sheriff, prosecutors, and defendant and her attorney. Well, the sheriff’s department had finished several interviews in the local media over the past week (part of what kicked this all off), and one of the stations had decided to let the other side have a shot. The order got issued at 5:30 or so the evening before that interview. Defendant and attorney got their copy about 20 minutes into the interview the next morning when faxes were unpacked and this one rushed over to them.
There’s more than a little rumbling now among folk who have dealt with gag orders and such in the past that amounts to “WTF?” Or more accurately, “Is this a railroad I see before me?”
Tonya Craft may be found guilty in a couple of weeks, but this whole thing is beginning to stink. Needless to say, it’s becoming quite the local conversation piece.