Tonya Craft Dropping Ex-Husband As Defendant In $25 Million Civil Suit

Appears With Joal Henke On NBC Today Show

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tonya Craft announced Monday that she has agreed to dismiss her former husband, Joal Henke, and his current wife, Sarah, from her $25 million federal civil lawsuit.

Ms. Craft made the announcement in an interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC Today Show in which appeared jointly with Mr. Henke.

She said the dismissal will be "with prejudice" - meaning it cannot be refiled.

Ms. Craft, who was absolved of all charges of child molestation in a highly-publicized trial at Ringgold, recently reached a custody agreement with Mr. Henke regarding their son and daughter.

She said she and Mr. Henke had gone in a room without attorneys present and worked out the settlement. She said, "It was for the children."

She stated, "We shed some tears. We talked about a lot of things."

Mr. Henke said they determined "to move forward in the best interest of the children."

Asked about her relationship with her daughter, who testified against her at the trial, Ms. Craft said, "It is as if nothing has happened." She said the relationship is "normal and happy."

She said, "They are learning to be healthy children without being in a therapist's office every week."

Mr. Henke said, "We have wonderful children."

Ms. Craft said after the meeting where the settlement was reached "it was almost like I had a physical heart transplant."

She said the lesson for others involved in a bitter divorce is "no matter what you have gone through, the children are the most important thing."

Ms. Craft in May, soon after her acquittal, had filed the lawsuit against her accusers in Federal Court in Rome, Ga.

The defendants include parents of the children who brought charges against her, the lead detective in the case, the Catoosa County sheriff and officials who investigated the complaints.

Remaining defendants are Sandra Lamb, Sherri and Dewayne Wilson, Kelli McDonald, Sgt. Tim Deal, Catoosa County, Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers, Suzi Thorne, Stacy Long, Laurie Evans, the Childrens Advocacy Center of the Lookout Mountain Judicial District and the Greenhouse Childrens Advocacy Center.

The suit says the children who brought charges against her were coached and that the allegations were not corroborated.

It says the former Chickamauga Elementary School teacher suffered humiliation and embarrassment by the two-year ordeal.

After a trial that lasted into the fourth week, a jury in Catoosa County cleared her of 22 counts of child molestation.

See video from the TODAY Show interview here:

AUDIO: County Commission Meeting 6/28/17

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