Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Case of Georgia teacher, just acquitted, carries an important lesson: it can happen to any parent or teacher!

The case of former kindergarten teacher Tonya Craft in Georgia calls attention to the risks people can take when they enter teaching. It’s easier to talk about since a jury acquitted her of all 23 charges.

The 2001 film “Just Ask My Children” (dir. Arvin Brown) had shown how overzealous prosecutors can coach children into testifying against parents or teachers suspected of “misconduct”, sometimes because someone else has a vendetta against them. Craft says she conferred with adults who had been involved in the Bakersfield, CA cases (the movie starred Gregory Smith [“Everwood”] as one of the kids just grown who recants). Craft describes this as “the perfect storm” and a witchhunt. Minor children will tend to give “consistent” testimony if “coached” and pressured by prosecutors.

We have to think about the risk we expect people to take when they enter teaching. Even when they have children and families. Just look at what sometimes happens.

Craft plans to go to law school. I wonder who pays her legal bills, even though she was acquitted. There is still some injustice. She lost her home and her job and her children because of a wrongful prosecution. She will file to regain custody or her children. Can she get them back?

The defense attorney explained that, whatever her constitutional rights, she had to take the stand.


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