Tonya was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee to two wonderful parents who have always been a staple in her life as well as to the life of her two children. Their support and involvement is a direct reflection of Tonya’s educational journey. Immediately following high school Tonya attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with the desire to become an educator. Tonya obtained her Bachelor of Science in Education and began teaching right away. Tonya started her career in Middle School but soon found her niche with the lower grades. She taught first grade for several years before taking a short break to stay home with her small children. While at home, Tonya began a personal training business and volunteered at church as a Sunday school teacher. Faced with life as a single mother, Tonya carried on her personal training business while simultaneously working as a literacy trainer with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In addition to this, Tonya began her pursuit of a Master’s Degree. As the early childhood literacy grant ended, Tonya acquired a teaching position in North Georgia as a Kindergarten teacher. As a single mother, she worked and went to school full-time, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Education with a reading and literacy specialization. May 30, 2008 is the day Tonya’s life was forever changed. With false allegations of child molestation she lost her home, her career, her reputation, her financial stability, and most importantly her two children.
Years of struggling with the judicial system educated Tonya more than any textbook, professor, or seminar could do. Her naive idea that the legal system is sustained on the foundation of innocent until proven guilty was shattered. Tonya’s mindset was altered in a way that eluded to what the system has evolved into – a game. Tonya was living the ultimate tennis match – only she was the ball being volleyed from side to side.
Tonya’s attorneys will tell you her involvement was like “having another lawyer on the team”. She did not have the expertise they had in the written law but Tonya had the drive to read, learn, and be involved in every aspect of her case.
Tonya is not a vigilante, nor a bitter individual. She recognizes there are sincere prosecutors who pursue the truth, honest investigators who uphold justice, and indifferent criminal defense attorneys whose motivation is the bottom dollar. Tonya has consulted on a variety of cases involving child molestation and many times she has refused to assist after reviewing the discovery available. Her answer is the same when Tonya’s decision to reject a case is stated: “I am not about manipulating the system – I am about the truth being exposed”. As naïve as it may resonate Tonya’s philosophy remains the same: “The words truth and justice should intersect no matter what the cost to either side”.
Many people ask Tonya: “So, will you ever go back into teaching?” Tonya has begun her plight to educate other’s – though no longer in an elementary classroom setting. Allegations arise! Allegations should be addressed! Tonya Craft simply believes these accusations should be treated with the diligent attentiveness they deserve. Her circumstance has educated her on the necessity and urgency of 3 simple words: “GET IT RIGHT”!
SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTSTonya Craft has been asked to speak to a variety of groups over the last seven years. Tonya has spoken to attorneys at State Bar CLE annual training sessions. Other venues have included faith based organizations, law schools, and motivational conferences. Below is a list of speaking topics Tonya has addressed. However, other topics may be requested based on an audience’s needs and goals.
SPEAKING TOPICSclick on title to show description
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This is the true story of a woman who prevailed against the most heinous accusations imaginable.
Tonya Craft, a Georgia kindergarten teacher and loving mother of two, never expected a knock on her door to change her life forever. But in May 2008, false accusations of child molestation turned her world upside down. The trial that followed dragged her reputation through the mud and lent nationwide notoriety to her name.
Tonya’s life spiraled into a witch-trial nightmare in which she was deemed guilty before her innocence could be determined by a jury. Her children were taken away without even a goodbye, and her own daughter was forced to take the stand against her in a courtroom. The situation seemed hopeless, and Tonya was shell-shocked and heartbroken. But that didn’t keep her from finding the strength to fight.
Over the course of two terrifying years, Tonya rallied to take charge of her own defense, flying across the country and knocking on doors on a desperate quest for answers, and defying her own lawyers on more than one occasion. Tonya’s goal was not only to avoid conviction; it was to clear her name, and, most of all, regain custody of her children.
Accused is about more than Tonya’s shocking trial and fight for justice. It is the story of a mother’s extraordinary love, the faith that sees her through it all, and the forgiveness that sets her free.
Tonya Craft has consulted on cases all over the United States. Tonya has narrowly tailored her consulting firm to defending those falsely accused of child sex abuse. Over two decades of teaching and working with children as a decorated teacher, her personal experience in successfully building a team while demanding to be actively involved in mounting her own defense, Tonya’s educational plight that resulted in graduating from law school, as well as her understanding and involvement in numerous cases both pre-trial and post-conviction give her unique credentials in consulting on child sex abuse cases.
- Review and analyze discovery material
- Review and analyze videotape interviews of witnesses/ alleged victims
- Review and locate online social media
- Create social media reports
- Create timelines and master chronologies
- Design a web of pertinent individuals (both for team use and to present to jury)
- Create spreadsheets
- Comparing discrepancies in statements
- Comparing inconsistencies in discovery material
- Comparing inconsistencies in witness/alleged victim’s statements
- Comparing discovery materials
- Outlining events and how to prove or disprove
- Formulate trial strategies and theories
- Assist in investigation and location of witnesses
- Assist in identifying and preparing for expert witnesses
- Assist in preparing witnesses to testify
- Assist in preparing defendant to testify
- Trial exhibit preparation (either physical demonstratives or technologically presented)
- Story boards illustrating inconsistencies/discrepancies
- Timelines to present to jury
- Webs illustrating relationships of individuals involved
- To scale layouts of pertinent locations
- Attending and prepping for depositions (if applicable)
- Assist in jury selection process
- Present at trial
- Pre-trial investigation and report generated of potential jury pool
- Assisting in formulating direct and cross examination of witnesses
- Assisting in formulating opening and closing statements
- Assisting in creating opening and closing presentations for trier of fact
- Pre-trial research of applicable statutes and case law to strengthen case
- Trial attendance/assistance
- Post-trial meetings with jurors individually
- Formulate spreadsheet based on juror opinions of case
Trial exhibits are used to assist the trier of fact/jury in unpacking large amounts of information. A case can have favorable facts to support the theory yet never get properly demonstrated. Story boards, timelines, and exhibits such as these present facts and information in way that is understandable as well as professional. Tonya has spoken to jurors after a trial has concluded to determine what was effective and impactful. In trials where Tonya created exhibits the jurors spoke to their effectiveness and assistance in understanding otherwise overwhelming amounts of information.Physical demonstratives to present to jury or technological presentations
Exhibit illustrating inconsistencies
Exhibit illustrating discrepancies
To-scale illustrations of pertinent locations
Timeline of events
Story boards comparing statements or information discovered
TRIAL EXHIBIT EXAMPLES
Tonya Craft is a Rule 31 listed family mediator with the State of Tennessee. Tonya has partaken in mediation in which she was a participant. Her personal experience coupled with her educational qualifications make her a unique mediator. Tonya’s goal is to facilitate mediation in a manner that implements communication as to support a positive step forward for all involved. Each individual comes to the table with a variety of grievances, frustrations, and ideas. Tonya’s desire is to assist in implementing a future plan that can benefit the children, the parents, and the non-material family unit that is produced as a result of the dissolution of a marriage.