Tonya Craft strikes custody deal, judge keeps under seal - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tonya Craft strikes custody deal, judge keeps under seal

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By Melydia Clewell & WRCB Staff

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Last minute deals have kept the custody battle for vindicated teacher Tonya Craft's children from reaching open court.  It will also keep the details of the temporary agreement from being made public.

Craft had sole primary custody of her son, 11, and daughter, 8, following her divorce from Joal Henke in 2003. In June 2008, when Craft was arrested in Catoosa County, Georgia, on Child Molestation charges, Henke sought and was granted temporary full custody.

The day after Craft's acquittal on the criminal charges her attorneys filed a motion in Hamilton County Circuit Court to have full custody of the children returned to her. Henke responded the next day by filing a motion asking Judge Marie Williams to make his temporary custody a permanent arrangement.

Today's hearing was intended so Judge Williams could rule on a motion Craft filed requesting expanded visitation with both children until the permanent custody issue is decided.

Court-appointed guardian ad litem Linda Hall acted as an emissary between Craft's legal camp and Henke's attorney, Charles Dupree. After several private discussions with both sides they all went into the courtroom where Hall told Judge Williams they'd reached a compromise.

Hall requested that the terms of the deal be given to the Judge in chambers "out of respect for the privacy of the children" and that if the Judge approved of the deal that her order be placed under seal so that terms of the arrangement will not be available to the public.

Judge Williams told both sides she appreciated the efforts to keep the case out of the courtroom as "these children do not need details of their private lives made public."

Henke declined to comment to the media. Craft made a brief remark reasserting her desire to have her children returned to her.

She then left the courthouse headed for Atlanta to catch a flight for Los Angeles where she and attorney Dr. Demosthenes Lorandos are set to appear on tonight's Larry King Live.

A July 22 trial date is scheduled to determine a final, permanent custody plan for the children.

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