Last Tuesday, Tonya Craft’s horrific ordeal at the hands of a morally bankrupt judicial system came to a merciful end, as a Catoosa County, Georgia, jury found her not guilty of multiple counts of child sexual abuse, including charges that she molested her own daughter. The case against Craft was a mountain of lies; virtually all of it was constructed from testimony by the alleged victims, all of whom were of preschool age at the time the assaults supposedly took place. It became clear during the trial that counselors at the Child Advocacy Center had pestered the children with questions until they offered up whatever “evidence” the state needed for its case. The prosecution’s inability to specify any details of the assaults, combined with ethically dubious behavior by the prosecutors and presiding judge (who did not recuse himself despite having represented the defendant’s ex-husband in their divorce proceedings), eventually led to an acquittal. Craft is free, although she has much to do to rebuild her life; she lost her job, her house and custody of her daughter following her arrest two years ago, and her family had to raise half a million dollars for her defense.
Now Catoosa County District Attorney Buzz Franklin blames not his spectacularly inept and unethical prosecution team for the case’s failure, but the jury, biased media coverage, and the internet(s):
I was disappointed with the verdict in the Tonya Craft case. The State presented a strong and compelling case to support a conviction, however, the jury chose to acquit her and we must accept this decision. Unlike a defendant, the State has no right of appeal. However, we need not agree with the verdict.
In most cases, the media strives to present their coverage of criminal trials in a fair and even-handed way that serves to inform the public. In this case, a number of local reporters openly took sides and heavily slanted their coverage in favor of the defense.
Combined with the dynamics of the internet blogosphere, it created an environment hostile to the State’s ability to receive a fair trial and portrayed the victims and their families in a false and negative light. This was an integral, purposeful and shameless part of the defense strategy.
The “dynamics of the internet blogosphere” appears to be a reference to bloggers who have covered the trial since its beginning, namely Bill Anderson who provided in-depth coverage on his blog, and Jacob Sullum who wrote for Reason‘s Hit & Run. Franklin’s statements would only make sense if the jurors had been reading media coverage, which of course they had sworn not to do. If he believes the jury was tainted, he needs to investigate immediately and not just whine about it to the public.
Anderson especially has been unwavering in his criticism of Catoosa County prosecutors Len Gregor and Chris Arnt, and he was no less brutal in his response to Franklin’s press release:
First, and foremost, Buzz, the state’s case sucked. My gosh, when you put high school graduates who “just remember” important details on the stand, and their testimony does not pass the smell test, and it is clear they are lying — that’s called PERJURY, Buzz — then you don’t have a case. You had lies, Buzz, and your code of ethics says you can’t do that….
Don’t give me this “right of appeal” crap, Buzzie Boy. Your district has a very suspicious 98 percent conviction rate, and that alone should be enough to warrant a visit from the fellows at the U.S. Department of Justice. So, quit crying about how unfair it is that you could not throw an innocent person in prison for the rest of her life.
Let us deal with the local press coverage before we deal with my blog, for you were referring to it, weren’t you Buzz? Hey, what did you want? Channel 9 was in the tank the whole time, kissing the posteriors of Chris Arnt and Len Gregor. I mean, how can it get better? …
The state went “above and beyond” discovery rules? What are you smoking, Buzz? The state introduced a ton of “I just remembered” evidence from Joal “I Just Remembered” Henke to Suzi “I Just Remembered” Thorne. It was perjury, Buzz, and your prosecutors suborned it, and House put it into evidence, so spare me this nonsense of the gracious prosecution.
As for Tonya Craft being a “child molester,” let’s talk seriously here. The jury said it believed she was NOT a child molester, and that is that. (And Arnt and Gregor knew it, too, but they knowingly brought a false case, which is a crime.)
So, now let us talk about that jury you slandered in your press release. First, the jurors swore they did NOT read the papers or my blog, so for you to claim that my blog influenced them is to accuse those jurors of committing perjury. Are you ready to charge them with crimes, Buzz? If not, then shut up. They did their job; you did not do yours, which was doing justice.
There is more, lots more, and it’s all worth reading, as is the rest of Anderson’s coverage of the trial. It is a chronicle of a justice system answerable to no one and arrogating itself above the citizens it is supposed to protect. Any Catoosa County resident who can read this and continue to vote for Buzz Franklin as DA is simply aiding and abetting his and his lackeys’ crimes.
But while Franklin’s talking points in his press release were almost entirely unfounded, his fear of the “internet blogosphere” is not. This is not the first time Anderson doggedly pursued a sham criminal case; he covered the Duke lacrosse team rape case in detail, a debacle that led to district attorney Mike Nifong’s resignation and eventual disbarment for, among other things, withholding critical exculpatory evidence from the lacrosse players’ defense lawyers, a charge Anderson has similarly leveled at Gregor and Arnt. The more that the Nifongs and Franklins of the world fear those who are unafraid of exposing their lies and crimes, so much the better for the rest of us.
P. S. Broken window fallacy bonus: the Rome News-Tribune reports that the Craft trial “brought extra business” to town.