Court has ended for the day and will resume at 9 a.m. Friday.
Deal said the longest he's ever done an interview with an adult is three to four hours. This was for a murder case and includes breaks and offering food and drink.
The prosecution asked Deal if he has ever conducted a perfect interview or investigation, and he said "no." Prosecutor Len Gregor also pointed out that the rules that social workers, police officers, and interviewers have placed on them are in place because of defense attorneys.
The defense has ended questions. The prosecution is redirecting the witness now.
The defense is playing a video of one of the interviews. The defense has been combing through the interviews, asking Deal why certain questions were asked and if they met the requirements of a suggestion or a modifying question. These are types of questions that interviewers should steer away from. Deal has answered "yes" to some and "no" to others.
King is going through another interview. In one interview the girl says she was touched on top of her clothes, but in another interview, she said she was touched under. When King asked him which one the truth is, Deal said they both could be, that maybe she was uncomfortable disclosing that information during the first interview or she didn't remember.
King described the interview as "lengthy" and Deal said he could not speculate what “lengthy” is and that he thought the defense cross-examining people for hours would be considered lengthy.
Deal said he does not have a problem with the interviewer asking the victim, "Is there anything else?" Deal said it was a "proper etiquette way" to end the interview, instead of just abruptly ending it after the child had disclosed what the interviewer wanted to know.
Because Catoosa County sheriff’s detective Steve Keith handed off this case to Deal, Deal refers to Keith's interview summary and case summary. These interviews are the same day the victim said, off-camera, that Craft inserted her fingers in the victim's vagina and it felt bad. Deal said proper procedure would be to get the victim back on camera after she disclosed information, but that did not happen in this case. King pointed out that in the interview summary and investigation summary, one says "finger" and one says "fingers." Deal said it was mostly likely a "typo."
King is asking about what occurred during the break between the two interviews that caused the girl to change some details. Deal said that though an investigator would want to know this information, he as the lead investigator does not know today.
Court is back in session. Defense attorney Scott King is questioning Catoosa County sheriff’s detective Tim Deal about a different interview. The victim had two interviews in the same day.
The court is taking a short break. Cross examination of Deal will continue in a moment.
King is going through the interview that Suzie Thorne, a former child abuse investigator with The Green House in Dalton, did with one of the victims. The victim said Craft was in trouble with the police, and when Thorne asked why, the victim said, "My dad told me she lied about something." Deal said this response "doesn't help" get a neutral interview. Deal also has training in conducting interviews.
Deal said he felt comfortable that he did not make any suggestive comments to one of the victims in an interview he conducted. In fact, he said, in the part of the interview when he was trying to build a relationship with the girl, he kept talking about a vacation to Florida, and the girl later corrected him that they went to Gulf Shores, Ala. He said he was proud of the girl for correcting him and not being susceptible to his mistake.
Deal said interviewers try to ask open-ended questions, but that's not often possible with small children.
One of the victims testified that she told a woman who was not her mother or the mother of the other victims about what Craft had done, but there is no record of this information in Deal's case file.
There are no notes from an interview with the mother of the child who originally brought up that abuse might be happening. This is the child who wrote "sex" and "kissing" with chalk at a pool party. Deal has, until now, been giving answers with explanations to King's questions, but his answers are getting shorter -- "yes", "no," "that's correct," or "probably."
Craft was arrested based on medical records, Deal said. King pointed out that those medical records which registered nurse Sharon Anderson conducted were not reviewed by a doctor until after the arrest.
King went back to discussing Deal not getting a search warrant for Craft's house. Deal said the allegations were about Craft using her finger, not any sort of sexual toy or pornography, so there was no probable cause for a search warrant to be issued.
Court has resumed. King is still cross examining Deal. King asked Deal about one of the victims having a journal in her third grade year and Deal said he did not get a copy of the journal because he thought it was a part of her therapy and because of privacy issues.
The court is taking a lunch break until 1:15 p.m.
The family of one of the potential victims of Craft did not cooperate with the investigation when one of the victims indicated that the girl had been abused.
The prosecution objected that this line of questioning is not relevant. The judge told the defense to talk about people who were there at the house frequently.
Deal agreed with King that children sometimes have a hard time remembering specific details. King is listing off some names of people who were often at Craft's home. Deal does not recognize many of the names.
Deal said he did not speak to two of the child victims' fathers in the course of the investigation. He said one father was very uncomfortable with the allegations and did not want to talk about it. The other father was not a "disclosure witness," he said. This means that the daughter did not tell anything to the father about the sexual abuse.
"I was going where the investigation led me and not on a witch hunt," Deal said. He said he didn't talk to the school nurse, school counselor, or the victims' pediatricians. He said the medical records are usually only obtained when the case is about physical abuse.
Deal said he wanted to talk to anyone who might have any information for an investigation. He told King he did not talk to the principal who was at the school at the time that Craft was teaching one of the victims, nor did he talk to the paraprofessional who taught with Craft. He said he didn't find it relevant to the investigation because perpetrators hide their intimate relationships from people whom they see in their day-to-day lives.
King has been asking Deal about his relationships with one of the victims' families. Deal said he wouldn't characterize the relationship as "personal." The district attorney’s office did not give Deal a search warrant to search Craft's house because of a lack of probable cause.
Deal said he believes the truth is easier for a child to remember than something that has been fabricated. He said he has seen children giving false allegations, but usually those children are older. But he also said younger children are more susceptible to suggestion.
During Deal's testimony, he has been turning toward the jury to address them. King asked him about it, and he said that he might have picked the habit up in some of his training, but mostly Deal just believes getting the information to the jury is more important than relaying it to the spectators and the news media since the jury is who will decide the outcome of the case.
The court took a short break and is now back in session. They have resumed questioning Deal. Defense attorney Scott King has begun the cross-examination.
Prosecutor Len Gregor asked Deal how it made him feel when defense attorney Demosthenes Lorandos said in his open statements that the case was a "setup and frame job." The defense objected and after a discussion at the judge's bench, the judge agreed with the objection.
Deal said he does not consider himself a scientist and he does not try to implant false memories in the child's mind or any other type of experiment. Deal said he does not want to jeopardize his job, nor does he need to add extra work for himself by doing these sort of things.
Deal said he's seen child molesters who are preachers, teachers, Sunday school teachers, and police officers. He said it is not uncommon for same-sex molestation to occur.
Deal said he did not interview every child Craft had taught because he felt it would be unfair to the defendant. He said, a year later, in April 2009, one of the victims had an emotional breakdown at school.
In the interview, the girl said Craft touched her inside and outside of her clothes. She said she touched her inside her privates. The girl said she saw Craft touch another victim and another girl who is not one of the victims. The girl was obviously more comfortable talking about other things and not Craft and touching. The girl's medical exam occurred after the interview that just played. The prosecution has continued questioning Deal.
The prosecution is playing a videoed interview with one of the victims. Deal conducted the interview.
Deal is talking about an interview he conducted with a girl from Tonya Craft's class who is not one of the victims. This girl also talked about the “boyfriend-girlfriend” game. This interview only revealed that one of the victims touched her, not that Craft did. The interview occurred on June 6, 2008. Warrants for Craft were obtained on June 10, 2008. She turned herself in on June 11, 2008. Deal said they were trying to make the arrest discreet.
The meeting has ended and Catoosa County sheriff’s detective Tim Deal is back on the stand.
Court begins for the day. The prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendant, and judge are meeting in the judge's chambers.
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