Saturday, May 1, 2010

Raw Video Interview with Tonya Craft

Drew, Thank you very much for find these videos; I could only find news stories where she was not speaking.

From a statement analysis perspective I was bothered by the fact she never directly denies the allegations, instead less forcefully she says no matter what the jury decides it doesn't change the fact about her innocence. Innocence and guilt are legal terms, and it would have been more honest- from a statement analysis perspective- if she had said she did not molest/touch these girls in an inappropriate manner.

When a person makes statements where the expectation is that they will be found guilty, before they are convicted can be a sign they have intellectually realized they are not going to get away with the crime; while a totally innocent person would always believe there could be no way they could be convicted of something they did not do.

When seeing it again, I am also bothered that she shows more emotion talking about the impact to her family. When entrenched in a legal battle concerning a criminal act that could result in spending the rest of your life in prison, you tend to ignore family and concentrate on yourself- your total energy is focused on making sure you are not going to wind up in jail for something you did not do. The heightened emotion could be for other reasons, like guilt, but there is no way to truly know.

When asked about why she considered becoming a lawyer it is the most telling part of the interview that could easily be missed. She states she wants to change the laws to protect her children- presumably children who are taken away from their mother when charged with a crime. This obviously is the biggest impact to her in this whole ordeal. Wouldn't the biggest impact be, being wrongly accused of a crime. She is a smart person, that is clear. She worked in education where there are very clear laws and rules designed to protect the children she comes in contact with as a teacher. If she see signs of abuse with any of the children she teaches, by law she would have to report what she sees. She has to understand that the laws are designed to protect the children from harm. At some level, wouldn't it be more genuine if she would have said I want to make sure what is happening to me doesn't happen to someone else- being falsely accused; and/or to make sure the laws protect the children; make sure everyone is more educated about the possibility of child memories (all she stated is very true in regard to statements made by children and this will likely be her defense, especially given the fact one was an actress portraying sexual abuse making false memories even more of a possibility) as it relates to legal proceedings.

I can also tell you why everyone is divided to her guilt or innocence. She has a way of answering questions in a manner that strikes a cord with everyday people. It is a common plot theme in fiction, Mr. or Ms. Normal American Citizen suddenly, without warning, is blindsided and forced into an epic battle- If you are old enough to remember the movie 'North by Northwest' where Hudson starts the day normally and through no fault of his own is caught you in a complicated spy thriller. When she answers questions she can answer them in a way that conveys it could have just as easily happened to you; and you have no control over it- not a situation anyone would want to be in. She also is pretty and looks innocent, Cornell Study: Juries Convict Attractive People Less Often

I would have liked for her to take a polygraph, her answer, while plausible (shown in the first video) still doesn't change the fact that the police offered her to take a polygraph and if she passed she would not be charged (not charged immediately anyway, cops language is a whole different article). Since she is from a small community, had she passed the polygraph there would be a great deal more support for her. Polygraphs have legal problems, but the shear willingness and confidence to take a polygraph test, in my book, says more than passing or failing the actual test.

Conclusion time. I simply do not know for sure and I would not want to be on the jury. I am conflicted by her lack of confidence from a statement analysis perspective. I would love to speak with the detectives to get their first impressions, any video or recordings of interviews with Tonya- too much time has passed- but if we could see that initial interview footage I'd think it would be clear if she was guilty. With deception we can never be 100% sure, but with this case I am willing to say the charges are more likely to have happened but given the law and the problem with false memories of children it is likely we will never know for certain without seeing Tonya when first confronted with these allegations.

Footnote: Since I occasionally coach reporters when interviewing people like Tonya there were a couple of mistakes made by the reporter. When you look at the raw footage notice:

- On a couple of occasions the reporter actually interrupts Tonya- interrupting an interviewee is something we should never do.
- The interviewer uses more words and takes longer to ask sensitive questions, this shows a lack of confidence on the part of the reporter and this puts the interviewee on guard. It is natural to do this in everyday conversations, but reporters have to be more straight forward and aggressive. Deliver these like the other questions: short, sweet, and open ended. Prepare all your questions before hand!

One big PLUS and compliment for the interviewer is at the end, she asks if there was a question that she didn't expect or hits close to home (I do not know for sure what was asked, it was hard to hear) at which point, Tonya thinking the interview was basically over gave a more animated, unrehearsed answer. To any reporter reading this- do this with every sit down interview, and keep it going as long as possible... the interview isn't over until the mics are off and the person is out of the shot, only then is it over.◦


Dan said...

BTW: Tonya Craft took (and passed) two polygraphs.

John said...

I heard that, but only could confirm it via a blog; searches on Google News/Archive did not confirm it...

Dan said...

Yes - it was difficult to confirm. Here was my source from the local radio station WGOW.

Drew said...

Regarding the failure to deny -- I would consider her statement that "I'm innocent no matter what the jury decides" to be a pretty clear denial of guilt. If the jury finds her guilty then legally speaking, she is NOT innocent. Hence, I think she was talking about factual reality rather than any mere legal status.