A Lose - Lose Situation.
May 12, 2010 - Michael Palmer
After a five-week trial that captured national media attention, a jury today found Tonya Craft, a former kindergarten teacher in Chickamauga, Ga., not guilty of molesting three young girls.
One of the girls was her own child and subsequently the mother lost her job as a teacher, lost her three children for the past two years and the family lost their home.
I have taken education courses and have both coaches sports and been a substitute teacher and I can tell you that this is one area of our legal system where you are guilty until proven innocent.
There are indeed child molesters in positions of authority and it is necessary to be extremely careful and when a child comes forward with an allegation it must be taken seriously. It is a case of betrayed trust and such unjust precautions are necessary to protect young children from any further dangers.
The problem comes when adults and police investigators slant the process towards their own preconceived notion of the case. Can it happen? Absolutely.
Did it happen here? I believe so. This was a woman who was physically attractive and has stated that she had broken off a friendship with the parents of the children who accused her when their children were caught touching each other.
Jealousy and anger or prejudice are passed from parent to child. A child learns what they live and if your parents have negative conversations concerning a neighbor, politician or teacher you will pick up on that attitude.
False accusations can devastate lives and ruin careers. On local celebrity that could have attested to this is Hendrysburg native William Lawrence Boyd. The famous film actor best known for portraying Hopalong Cassidy was falsely accused by national media for the crimes of another actor, William Stage Boyd.
Stage Boyd's arrests for alcohol possession during prohibition and drug possession damaged his career and that of the "other" William Boyd. Many newspapers reported the arrests publishing photos of the wrong William Boyd with the news stories. As a result Hopalong lost his studio contract with RKO pictures.
There were retractions printed in the interior pages but the damage to Hopalong’s career was done.
If jealous parents indeed intended to ruin Tonya Craft’s career and her life, even though she has is not going to jail, these people can still file this as a victory.
Although Craft was found innocent, she still must regain custody of her children.
If she does, she has still lost two years of their lives. She will most likely have to leave the small Georgia community because her children will be subject to the gossip and backlash from the accusations. Her career also has been ruined and it is doubtful that she will ever teach again.
It is a victory for the American justice system, however, it is a huge loss for the Craft family and all of the children involved.