Teacher Cleared of Molestation Charges
Jubilation from supporters as a kindergarten teacher is cleared of molesting three children.
The accusations against Tonya Craft have divided the community around Chickamauga, Georgia. Some are calling it a witch hunt.
Tonya's own daughter and two other girls claimed she touched them inappropriately. All were under age 10. The 37-year-old teacher even lost custody of her daughter after the charges were filed.
Tonya took the stand to maintain her innocence, saying, "I did not do anything to these children."
But the prosecutor scoffed, "Lie, after lie, after lie."
The town held its breath as the jury deliberated. On the day of the verdicts, many of Tonya's supporters waited nervously in the corridors of the courthouse. When the verdicts were read, you could hear the cheers through the walls of the courtroom. Only after the final verdict did Tonya show relief.
"As they were being read I was scared to get too excited because I thought there might be a (pause), as they read each count, you want to hear the final 'not guilty.' "
There were scenes of jubilation outside the courthouse. And today, many of Tonya's supporters celebrated her acquittal at the home of Tonya's mother.
"I talked to my daughter at 5:30 this morning. She called me and said that she had the biggest load lifted off her back," said Tonya's mother.
But there are still voices of doubt about the verdict. Miriam Boyd is friends with the accusers' families and said, "I can't think of a logical reason for this to happen. Except that the children did have something happen to them. They had no reason to make this up. They had nothing to gain. Nothing pleasant came out of this."
Tonya says her next legal battle is clear, to get back her daughter after two years apart.
"I can't get the two birthdays I lost to my daughters. I can't ever get those back," said Craft.