April 30, 2010 10:43 AM
Tonya Craft: Kindergarten Teacher's Child Molestation Trial Divides Small Community
The 37-year-old former Chickamauga Elementary School teacher is accused of abusing three young girls at her home between Aug. 2005 and May 2007, according to CBS affiliate WDEF.
She is charged with 22 counts of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Although she was a teacher at the elementary school in Walker County in the northwest corner of the state, her trial is taking place in nearby Catoosa County. Investigators say she violated the three young girls inside her Catoosa County home during slumber parties.
Craft, a mother of two, has taught for 15 years, three of those years at Chickamauga Elementary School. She claims she is innocent and support for her has lead to creation of a support website called Truth for Tonya. Supporters on the site claim the "media hysteria" on the case has been "inaccurate" and that she is innocent.
"I know it in my heart she couldn't have done any of the things she's accused of," a friend of Craft told WDEF in Aug. 2008. "Nothing has been proven that this lady has done anything wrong."
But not everyone in the community agrees.
"Just because you don't want this to be true, or it didn't happen to your child in her class, doesn't mean she isn't capable of it," said an anonymous commenter on WDEF's website. "Most molesters are nice and attractive and (are) your friends/neighbors/teachers/priests/etc."
Tonya Craft's defense team called several witnesses Thursday, including friends and fellow teachers.
For full coverage on the child molestation trial, Visit CBS Affiliate WDEF.
Reporting Contributed by CBS Affiliate WDEF's Amanda Odom.