May 12, 2010

Teacher cleared of molestation: ‘Nobody wins’

Posted: 03:14 PM ET



Now that a jury has said “not guilty,” now that she is finally free of allegations of child abuse that have hung over her for two years, a former kindergarten teacher from Georgia can reveal that one of the three children who testified against her was her own daughter.

“My own daughter,” Tonya Craft confirmed to TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Wednesday in New York.

“The only thing she had ever said was that I had put medicine on her,” Craft added. But taken along with the testimony of two other young girls, it seemed momentous to prosecutors.

And watching her own daughter presented as a witness against her was devastating.

“That was the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, because my job as a mother is to protect her,” Craft told Vieira, fighting to control her emotions. “There obviously was no anger toward her. It absolutely broke my heart to see that my daughter had been pretty much indoctrinated to believe things that weren’t true.”

‘Nobody wins’
That’s why Craft, though relieved to be exonerated, wasn’t reveling in her freedom. It’s been nearly two years since she’s been allowed to visit her daughter, Aiden, and she’s seen her son, Cole, only occasionally on supervised visits. She’s lost her job and her home, and she and her family are out the $500,000 it cost to defend her.


Filed under: Justice

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RWsMom   May 12th, 2010 4:46 pm ET

I hope that this will be the beggining to the end of the hysteria caused by these sex offender laws! I honetly hope that Tonia Craft will set a pressidence to prosecutors and lawmakers to stop the "witch hunt" for sex offenders.
Too many people are labled as sex offenders because of the scare that the media has caused and the likes of people like John Walsh, who might I add, has admitted to having his own sexual addictions! These laws are only funding lawmakers and company's wallets. Companies that make the GPS monitoring systems for example, pushed lawmakers to make laws requiring all sex offenders released from incarceration to wear them. Now who's wallets are benefiting?
States also receive Federal Funding (Byrne Funding) for every sex offense prosecutors convict. Who's wallet benefits?
Teens are being charged and convicted at alarming rates! As well as others that are being accused and convicted wrongfully! Look at the sexting cases, the teenage consensual sex cases, child custody battles, teachers and law enforcement being accused. Someone is benefiting! But not the public! Our tax monies are paying to house all of these wronfully accused offenders! Sex offender laws need to be reformed!

maree   May 12th, 2010 4:50 pm ET

I am so glad that the jury found not guilty. Our justice systems is flawed. I have a son in prison and has petitions filed in the federal courts to overturn verdict.False testimony was given and paper work that was filed to prove false accusations were buried. Paper work filed now came back as double hearsay even though paper work is all family court paper work.
He has lost 3 years and now waiting for federal courts. Such a shame.

Smith in Oregon   May 12th, 2010 7:38 pm ET

Wrongful and vengeful false accusations of child molestation appears to be a terrible ordeal on the defendant, family members and the enormus costs and toll that it places on everyone involved and accused.

My heart goes out to those individuals that are often deemed Guilty until absolutely proven Innocent. I agree, US Justice is broken and unfairly targets American's that live on Main Street while giving Celebrates and American's that live on Wall Street a distinct pass.

Kathie Shaffer   May 12th, 2010 9:30 pm ET

I think she should have NEVER been charged .

Phyllis Bradley   May 12th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

I am glad to see that justice has prevailed.
There are many cases like Tonya's and it is nice to see that the community stepped up to the plate to support her.
I am facing the same fate,
I would like to tell my story but I have to wait.
Am so glad she was strong enough to follow through and win.
This is happening all over the US and there needs to be more publicity and education by the system.
The feds need to do an investigation about these kinds of accusations.

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   May 13th, 2010 4:02 am ET

Wow, this sounds like a case of mob mentality. Seeing the look on that couples face in the picture above tells it all. I was quite disturbed by the whole story and saddened.

I hope this lady and her family will find some healing and forgiveness.

Justin from Canada   May 13th, 2010 4:57 am ET

This happened to my Dad 21 years ago...its sucks...A poor girl came to school with a hole in her pants and she was being made fun of in dad asked her to stay after class....her and another kid testified that my dad touched her....we lived in a small city, everyone turned their backs on us...even our church...we went to another church and the priest asked us not to come back because it was making the families at this church uncomfortable. My dad taught choir to senior citizens, he was a city aulderman. He was a teacher for about 15 years. He believed in the law, but the law screwed him and my family.....we find out after that this girl and her mother has done this before! The people observing the case believed my dad was innocent. There was only a judge deciding the case, he was found guilty by the one judge....he said my dad was humiliated enough and i think a couple years probabtion. We had a good family before that...things changed. It's hard when you're young not knowing why you dont have anything underneath the christmas tree. It's hard knowing your family is struggling. It's hard when people turn their backs on you. Moving to other schools.Grades sliped. Crying all the time....there's so much much more...

I hope for the biggest rainbow for you Tonia after this storm.

zoe   May 13th, 2010 5:18 am ET

From everything I've been able to read and search on these clows of a prosecutors and judge I'm skeptical of any investigation of them carried out by the local FBI of North Georgia. Hopefully, there will be a thorough investigation into this judge and these prosecutors practices. Seems they've done this before numerous of times to other possibly innocent victims. The only difference this time is they met someone who had the means financially to fight back.. The local FBI has already shared info with the sheriff down there of a possibly investigation into practices on the way, allegedly . The sheriff is said to be a relative of the wife of the judge in this case or the wife of another judge. Like most small towns, they're all connected some way, either through being blood related, kissing cousins or hunting and fishing buddies. Small town politics at its mose heinous and wicked.

Charles L. Hunt   May 13th, 2010 5:43 am ET

I spent ten years in the military. I was hazed ("toughened up") for dive school and consequently had a grand mal seizure as a result of my head injury while I was in training to be a diver. My wife went to the family advocate (she thought) who was really an N.C.I.S. investigator & explained what had been done to me. The investigator believed it was prudent to protect the image of the Navy and accused me of abusing my children. The military would have none of it but she was not dissuaded. She continued to pursue her charges in the local courts and brought in a H.R.S. (now called D.C.F.) investigator and the not so 'good ol' boys of the Bay County Sherriff's office (yes, the ones who beat a 14 year old boy to death in front of their own cameras and have had many other incidents in which people have died without being found at fault according to their internal investigations and the feds). One of the deputies came up behind me and smashed me on the back of the head and then arrested me for "resisting arrest without violence"!!! The charges were dropped by the judge the next day, after I spent a night (my first night ever) in jail. By the way, even if charges are dropped you still have an arrest record and the charge will most likely be brought up again (as if you had been convicted!). The N.C.I.S. person and the H.R.S. person (who's husband worked for the A.T.F.) thought up a new way to attack my family. They simultaneously attacked me in 'family court' and federal court and, just as another comment I read at this site indicated, they kept using what THEY would say in one case as so called EVIDENCE in the other case! They put me in jail again. This time they put me in a VERY cold cell and took ALL of my clothes away. They had a camera on me and the lights stayed on 24 hours a day. Every few hours they would take me down the hall (yes, they gave me clothes then but took them away again when they took me back to the cell) and two or more male officers would verbally abuse me and tell me the horrible things I did in an attempt to get me to break down and plead out – this is what is done to prevent a trial, especially in a case in which they do not have solid evidence of guilt. I had asked for an attorney but I was soon to find out why public defenders are known as "public pretenders" to anyone that has ever been in need of legal help. Suffice it to say I would not "cooperate" with them (and when they have made up their mind that you are going down this makes them angry). They started out with one charge and as I was in jail awaiting trial for almost a year (innocent until PROVEN guilty! Speedy trial! Ha!) they continued to "stack" charges until they had nine horrendous charges! Stacking is done because the more you accuse a person of, even to a well meaning juror, the more guilty they look. As I already said, they were proceeding with a civil trial at the same time and telling my wife that if she did not divorce me that she would never see our sons again. She stuck with me. The jury found me guilty of two of the least of the terrible charges but the family court judge took our children away and the federal judge exceeded the sentencing guidelines because the prosecutor told him that "BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE WE FIND THE DEFENDANT GUILTY OF THE AQUITTED CONDUCT" What!!!!!!! You heard right. I did not even believe that these things could be done. To think that I had been willing to die for this government and at one time I had been on the base security force. This is how I was thanked. I thought about it deeply though and I realized that our Creator, JEHOVAH, and HIS Son, Christ JESUS have been treated far worse by far more people and as God's Word says: they "are going from bad to worse" as the end of this corrupt world ruled by satan nears its end. God Bless You All. The end is close.

helen   May 13th, 2010 10:29 am ET

This is exactly what happened to Michael Jackson. The allegations were completely false, concocted by a mother who was a cheat, a liar, and a fraud, who coached and used her own children in hopes of a big payoff. She and her children admitted under oath that they had lied under oath on previous claims of sex abuse and had concocted them falsely. The trial transcripts prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt. When the trial was all over, it was the mother who was jailed and arrested. She was the criminal, not Michael Jackson. I'm glad this innocent mother as well as Michael Jackson walked free. Both of their hearts are broken. Can you imagine devoting your life, time and money to helping children all over the world and then have that one passion used against you? God bless you, Michael Jackson, for enduring your tribulations with the utmost dignity and always doing it with love.

Janice Murphy Ringgold, Ga   May 13th, 2010 10:12 pm ET

I followed the news on Tonya from start to finish, and I can trully tell you the day she was found not quilty all 22 counts it was a day the would seamed to stop, and you could once again breath assigh of
relief, and just say thank you Jesus, thank you. Our little town was
filled with supporter crying, laughing and some just praying out load
thanks to you Lord she is free. No matter where you looked you could see people hugging each other, some saying please don't let me wake up and find this only a dream. Tonya, we care for you very much and hope that if want be long that you get your children back and can put all this behind you. Remember Jesus says He will never leave us are forsake us. He is with you as long as you are with Him.

jamila   May 13th, 2010 10:25 pm ET

I felt that she was innocent when I first heard how the charges came about; she was charged after informing the parents that something was going on with their children. It looks to me like these parents tried to deflect attention away from themselves on to her. Maybe they are the ones who need to be investigated I'm glad the truth prevailed; this woman is innocent!!!!!.

mel   June 15th, 2010 2:58 pm ET

I am going through a very similiar situation. I miss my children dearly. I've been made to feel like a criminal having people watch over me as i visit my children. i worry about my children and pray for them everyday, only i dont have the money to fight this injustice to my children.(sorry crying as i write this). No child or parent should have to go through this. And my message(whether i like it or not) it will probably be passed over just like so many others. Miss Craft has brought up a subject that has been swept under the rug for far too long. That fathers arent the only ones going through this travesty(it's moms too).Thank you Mrs.Craft; I hope your struggle doesnt getting pushed outta the limelight in 1-2 months like so many other news stories.Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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