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Tonya Craft: Teacher on Trial (Day Four)

Catoosa County Courthouse Catoosa County Courthouse

THURSDAY, APRIL 15

Follow WRCB's Melydia Clewell and Callie Starnes on Twitter. Get updates from the field and courthouse at Facebook.com/WRCBtv. Legal analysis on-air from WRCB Legal Analyst McCracken Poston.

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Update 5:17 p.m.

Court will resume tomorrow morning. Our crew tried to ask defense what's up first on the agenda. They wouldn't answer.

Update 4:32 p.m.

Doctor says she agreed with nurse's findings in exam performed on first child victim. Doctor says she is not as sure about second alleged child victim's exam because she was not there when it was performed. Doctor says third exam was ruled normal because there was no way to prove, or disprove sexual abuse. The second alleged victim does not show signs of abuse. "We can't prove or disprove," the doctor said.

Doctor says taking history is part of a sexual assault exam. Previous witness said that is not the case when working with kids.

Doctor cried on the stand as defense continues to push and push about what she does and doesn't know about sexual abuse.

Doctor regained her composure very quickly. Visibly frustrated with defense questioning.

Update 3:50 p.m.

Prosecution asking witness about exams performed by Sharon Anderson. Court considers this witness an "expert" also  

Doctor on stand signs off on exams performed by previous witness. She also performs rape exams.

Court back in session. Next witness - child advocacy doctor.

Court taking a 15 minute break. Camera inside on Craft as she talks to her attorneys.

Defense finally gives it up. Nurse dismissed from stand.

Defense trying to discredit nurse by asking her about journals she's never read. Not a single objection from prosecution.  

Around and around we go. Defense not letting up on nurse.

Defense asking nurse about specific journals and case studies she is not familiar with.

Update 2:47 p.m.

Defense digging to find out how medical professionals make decision as to what is "normal" and what is "suspicious"

Temperature is rising in pool room. Want to ask to turn on the fan, but then we can't hear.

Defense questioning what the word "normal" means. Nurse says normal is what girls' private areas should look like.

Defense: How do you cope with all the bad stuff you see, talk to people about it? Nurse: I don't sleep well.

Nurse: just because there is no evidence doesn't mean abuse didn't happen. Defense: But no evidence means no evidence, right?

Defense stands, puts hands in pockets, approaches nurse at stand, and thanks her for her hard work. Now moves to questions ... 

Nurse says exams do not rule out all abuse. She says some things done to children do not leave physical marks.

Third girl's exam was ruled "normal

Update 2:15 p.m.

Exam of first girl ruled "very suspicious" of abuse ... Exam of second girl ruled "suspicious" of abuse.

Second alleged victim's exam now being discussed.

Graphic images of exam being shown on big monitor in courtroom. We will not show this on air. Camera in courtroom is fixed on Craft.

Exam didn't show tears, bruising, abrasions, or swelling ... but tissue was missing that should be present in kid her age.

Says 1st victim was relaxed during exam.

Prosecution asks that nurse won't be able to refer to written report while answering questions. Judge allows it.

Nurse first testifying about exam done on child who testified this morning.

Nurse says she performed two exams one day, the third three days later.

Nurse testifies she did perform exams on alleged victims.

WARNING: tweets during nurse testimony could be graphic. I'll try not use most offensive language, but want to report facts

Nurse admitted as an "expert" witness.

Nurse says she has performed between 50 and 60 exams a year.

Nurse says she is a "blank slate", doesn't ask questions of children. She says that way she is not bias.

Nurse says child exams, unlike adult exams, are not as invasive.

Nurse being asked mostly about her credentials. She is also a deputy coroner.

Update 1:37 p.m.

Next witness taking stand. She is the SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) nurse that performed the rape exams on the 3 alleged child victims.

Craft supporters are allowed back in the courtroom this afternoon. All were banned during child testimony.

Craft supporter was just kicked out of the courtroom. She was previously a witness, but is no longer on the list. 

Judge says media will not be excluded from medical testimony.

Court back in session. We have camera inside courtroom now.

  

Update 12:10 p.m.

The girl saw a counselor once per month between June 2008 and April 2009. In the tape the girl referred to Tonya Craft as "the evil one."

On tape and ten months into the sessions, the girl told her counselor that Craft sexually abused her while in the bath tub. Girl describes bathtub as white. She says Craft would use her hands to violate her. The girls uses the word "privates" to describe body parts. She also tells counselor that Craft covered her mouth and told her not to say anything as she molested her.

Child says she was scared she would be in trouble with her mom if she told.

Lunch break until 1:15. New witness up then.

Update 11:39 a.m.

On video, the girl's top complaints with Tonya Craft is that she "touched her everywhere" (clothed), wanted girl to touch her back, made her turn off tv, didn't like pajamas Craft gave her to wear, couldn't play with Barbies at bedtime, and went to mow the lawn.

The Court is now on a brief break. Will finish with the first witness after the break. Testimony may continue into the evening today because the Court wants to hear other witnesses who cannot attend tomorrow.

Update 11:33 a.m.

Girl asks interviewer in tape who will see the tape. Interviewer says "only people who need to see it, not just anyone."

Defense keeping track of girl's claims on a big board in courtroom with a marker. Girl says she reported sexual abuse after the video stopped, after being asked 16 times, because she forgot.

Counselor asked 16 times: Anything else? After videotaping stopped, on the way out the door, little girl said Tonya Craft molested her.

Update 11:09 a.m.

The counselor, on video, asks child 12 times so far if there is "anything else". The defense attorney asks child on stand if it helped her remember better. Girl: "I don't know."

Child said she went to get "pampered" at a spa after interview with woman as crisis center. After being "pampered" she is then interviewed by another woman at the center.

It appears that the second interview did not happen on the same day. Defense trying to figure out time line of when next interview happened.

After first 3 visits with a counselor, child doesn't talk about any molestation. Meets with new counselor and said "she (Tonya) would touch me everywhere."

Update 10:44 a.m.

Girl says Tonya Craft told her she had to touch her or she would have to go home. She also said Tonya threatened her mother.

Girl says Craft would scrub her hard with washcloth during a bath, but doesn't tell interviewer in video that she was molested.

Update 10:23 a.m.

Child in video is asked whether there is anything else that happened to her.

Response: "I'm thinking."

Interviewer in video gets up and leaves. Comes back into shot and asks more questions.

Interviewer asks child how she knew something happened to her.

Girl says, "My momma told me."

Update 10:13 a.m.

Prosecuting attorney trying to tell media where to sit in courtroom because he doesn't want working media to "intimidate witnesses."

Update 10:01 a.m.

Child says in video questioning that Tonya Craft would not feed her. Child says in video, "I was scared to tell her to stop."

Child is asked if anything else happened. Video shows she shook her head no. Then interview asks if Tonya Craft was mean in other ways. Interviewer continues to ask little girl if anything else happened in video.

Little girl tells interviewer she played "boyfriend-girlfriend game" with other alleged victim

Child witness says Tonya Craft kissed her on neck. Child witness says in video she did not tell mom what Craft did.

Defense the asks girl on the stand: "Was that a mistake?" Girl: "I don't know."

Some of the evidence in the video appears to conflict with the child testimony on the stand. When asked if she knows why, she said "I don't know."

Little girl says Tonya Craft turned up music in her car, rap music with bad words.

Jury just asked to take a break.

Update 9:30 a.m.

The morning began with the prosecution trying to kick media and public out of the courtroom during medical testimony. WRCB and other media representatives approach the bench argue for public access in an open court.

Prosecution argues that media have an interest in case to portray it in a certain way, and should be excluded.

Defense says no pictures will be shown that are "pornographic". He does not object to media being present.

Judge says he will make a decision later as to whether the media will be allowed in during medical testimony.

Child witness then takes the stand again

Update 7:00 a.m.

Today will begin with one less alternate juror after one was removed late yesterday for discussing the case outside of court. Cameras will not be allowed inside the courtroom as underage witnesses continue. A 9-year-old girl who began testimony yesterday will start the day. Presumably, the first three witness will be the young girls who accuse Tonya Craft of child molestation. The Judge's Order from March 9th issued a ban on cameras when children were testifying. Channel 3's team of reporters will be allowed to stay inside the courtroom without a camera.

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