Tonya Craft Dismisses $25 Million Lawsuit Against All Defendants

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tonya Craft, who filed a $25 million federal lawsuit after she was absolved of all charges of child molestation in a highly-publicized trial at Ringgold, has dismissed the case against all defendants.

Ms. Craft had announced on Monday that she was dismissing it against former husband, Joal Henke, and his new wife, Sarah, after they had reached a joint custody arrangement.

Her attorneys on Tuesday filed a motion in Federal Court in Rome, Ga., dismissing the case against the Henkes "with prejudice" - meaning it cannot be brought again.

At the same time, a dismissal motion was filed involving the other defendants.

It is "without prejudice" - meaning the case could later be resurrected.

Those 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.

Ms. Craft's initial 52-page complaint had asked compensatory and punitive damages against defendants who included 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.

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

It said 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.

The suit was filed by attorneys Scott and Cary King of Atlanta, who were part of the four-person defense team at the trial.

It said "false and malicious" statements were made against Ms. Craft, including charges that she is a sexual pervert, a criminal and a parent whose behavior was totally inappropriate.

The suit said the "extreme and outrageous conduct of defendants was designed to subvert the parental and familial relationships between the plaintiff and her family."

It said the defendants conspired "to manipulate the youngest member of plaintiff's immediate family into the role of sex abuse victim."

The complaint said charges were brought against Ms. Craft "through fraud, corruption, perjury, fabricated evidence and/or other wrongful conduct undertaken in bad faith."

The suit said she "was arrested on charges she did not commit."

It said the charges "had no reasonable basis, were not supported by probable cause and were initiated out of sheer malice on these defendants' parts."

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