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Tonya Craft, Kindergarten Teacher, Not Guilty on 22 Molestation Charges

Tonya Craft (AP/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Angela Lewis)
ATLANTA (CBS/AP) The molestation trial of Tonya Craft that was marked by heartbreaking testimony from her three young accusers, including her own daughter, has ended in a not guilty verdict on all 22 charges, including charges of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation.

As the Catoosa County Superior Court jury announced their verdict Craft wept and supporters cheered loudly outside the courtroom.

"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," Demosthenes Lorandos, Craft's attorney said.

But Craft was more circumspect about the verdict telling the NBC's Today Show that her whole heart was stolen by the ordeal and the verdict only gave her back half.

"Until I get my children, I won't have my heart back," Craft, who lost custody of her two children after her arrest in 2008, said. The 37-year-old former Chickamauga Elementary School teacher was accused of abusing three young girls at her home between Aug. 2005 and May 2007 according to CBS affiliate WDEF.

Lorandos 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.

Craft told the Today Show that the "absolute hardest thing that [she'd] ever experienced" was watching her daughter testify for the prosecution against her during the trial.

"My job as a mother is to protect her," Craft told Meredith Vieira. "It absolutely broke my heart to see that my daughter had been pretty much indoctrinated to believe things that weren't true."

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April 30, 2010 - Tonya Craft: Kindergarten Teacher's Child Molestation Trial Divides Small Community

  • Carlin Miller

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