Has the outcome of the Tonya Craft trial in Catoosa County made other prosecutors across the state of Georgia reluctant to bring cases of the sexual abuse of a child before the bar? Ms. Craft, a former teacher, was exonerated by a jury in Ringgold in May of this year on 22 counts of child molestation. This outcome was in spite of a previous winning percentage of almost 100 percent by the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office.
Efforts to speak to the district attorney and deputy sheriff involved in this case have been unsuccessful to this point.
How did it all start for one father in a county just to the south of Catoosa County? And how does Catoosa County figure in this case, as well?
It was one of those situations every man and woman hates to think about. You are driving, minding your own business when suddenly the blue lights of a police cruiser appear in your mirror. You pull over, present your license and insurance documents to an officer who proceeds to run your information through NCIC (National Crime Information Center). Moments later he is back at your window with the news that you are wanted under a warrant - a warrant you didn’t even know existed.
You voluntarily tell the officer that you do have a pistol in the car and it is taken by the officer. By this time there are more agencies on the scene and you are pretty much scared as to what is going on.
The officer writes you a ticket for the original reason you were pulled over – a faulty tail light. You are then arrested on the warrant - a warrant for your alleged sexual misconduct with your own daughter. A warrant that was only issued less than a week earlier and you had no idea it existed. A charge that you have violated Georgia’s gun law also appears on your paperwork.
This is exactly what happened to John Mulkey in Catoosa County on the night of Aug. 2, 2009. Mr. Mulkey, 41, is a resident of Cartersville in Bartow County. He is insistent that he is innocent of any charge of child molestation. Mr. Mulkey says, “I believe it is being done by family members to gain possession of (child to be unnamed).”
Mr. Mulkey was arrested on the warrant and taken to the Catoosa County Jail where he was held for the Bartow authorities for several days. Later, he appeared before a magistrate and was released on a $15,000 bond. He presently remains free on that bond.
But where does the story actually begin? John and his wife, Casey, had been happily married for over 10 and a half years. They had one daughter who was the light of their eyes, according to Mr. Mulkey. Then their lives all began to crumble. Casey was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away on May 2, 2008. Mr. Mulkey recounts, “I was out of town working when I got the call to hurry home, that Casey was fading fast. I drove like a mad man, but still did not make it in time. It broke my heart that she died without me being there with her.”
The summer before the daughter spent with her mother’s relatives in the Northwest part of the country - in Washington State and Idaho. They had apparently become close and, when Casey passed away, it was only natural that the young girl go stay with her relatives while her dad worked and tried to put things together again. The daughter stayed with the relatives until John agreed to purchase a round-trip air fare for her to come and visit him.
Upon her arrival, he canceled the return portion of the ticket and the two began their life together again. According to Mr. Mulkey, the daughter was happy to be home again. He said she had been told by her aunts that she was not welcome back in Georgia and that her father would not allow her to come back if she left them. However, she had apparently told her father that she wanted to come home to Cartersville. So, on June 21 of 2009 she returned.
Somewhere during that summer the relatives called to tell Mr. Mulkey that his daughter had made startling statements that he had touched her inappropriately. Apparently, according to Mr. Mulkey, these allegations were originally made to a great aunt. Efforts to contact these individuals have been unsuccessful up to this point. The only person with whom contact has been made is Mr. Mulkey’s former mother-in-law, who refused to talk about the case other than to acknowledge that she had been interviewed by Sgt. Nancy Norris.
Just prior to his arrest, Mr. Mulkey was visited at his home in Cartersville by Sgt. Norris and Jessica Taylor of the Department of Family and Children Services. Upon entering the home, according to Mr. Mulkey, Sgt. Norris was said to remark, "I see a lot of love in this house." However, it was that day that his daughter was taken to live with a foster family with whom she was familiar. She remains with this family to this date.
It has now been well over a year since his arrest and his daughter being taken from him and Mr. Mulkey has yet to be indicted on any charges related to child abuse, nor has Judge Ralph Van Pelt issued any ruling on the weapons charge in Catoosa County Court. According to Georgia law a carry permit is not required when the weapon is either in one’s house or automobile. Added to the fact that he was unaware of the warrant, Mr. Mulkey asks, “How did I know I was breaking the law?” Any person under a warrant is not allowed to have in their possession a handgun, according to Georgia law.
Meanwhile, according to Mr. Mulkey, his daughter has repeatedly told him that she loves him and that she did not make the statements attributed to her. Apparently, according to Mr. Mulkey, any statements she made were only after the repeated questioning by her mother’s family. This came after one year of questioning when she allegedly told authorities that, “Dad touched me at least four times.” According to Mr. Mulkey, her stories have all been different each time she recounts them. He is currently awaiting copies of the audio and video of her interviews.
Mr. Mulkey, himself, has been interviewed by Dr. Nancy Aldridge and Dr. Gene Abel, as well as passing a polygraph exam. Some of his wife’s family have allegedly been contacted by the Bartow officer, but to his knowledge no one who knows him in Cartersville has been contacted by law enforcement.
For over a year Mr. Mulkey has been living with this hanging over his head, awaiting answers that are not being provided. Meanwhile, he, along with his attorneys Scott King and Anthony Perrotta, continue to try to regain custody of his daughter.
Mr. Mulkey and attorney King are scheduled to appear on Fred the Show on WGOW Talk Radio 102.3 FM on Friday. They will be on with Jeff Styles and Kevin West.
(Email Dennis Norwood at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter at DennisENorwood)