In multiple, peripheral ways, I'm connected to what is the most unbelievable, soap opera trial to hit our notch on the Bible Belt in a mighty long time.
Tanya Craft, a former kindergarten teacher in North Georgia, is on trial for molesting three young girls in her home on various occasions.
What started as a case that no one seemed to question -- how rarely are criminal charges of child molestation anything less than open-and-shut? -- has emerged as the kind of story which once again reminds us that you can't even make up the kind of shit going on in reality, because no one would buy your story for it being too unrealistic.
Take the most twisted episode of Desperate Housewives you've ever seen, throw in a little bit of COPS and a little bit of the Jon-Benet Ramsey case, and add a dash of that old Holly Hunter movie, The Positively True Adventures of the Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, and you might start to get some vague sense of the circus happening just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Here's the best and most detailed reporting on the case:
Here's the best and most detailed TV crew on the scene (with TWO reporters!):
It's the most popular local topic on Twitter!
And then there's the real twist. Sitting hundreds of miles away at a computer in Maryland is a man named William L. Anderson. Just a blogger.
Except Mr. Anderson is the kind of blogger that is, at least outside that courtroom and in the realm of public opinion, what can be considered a "game-changer."
A few years ago, Mr. Anderson made it his mission in life to prove, almost from the first day he heard about the story, that the Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a stripper were innocent. He has now turned his attention -- at the rate of two posts every weekday -- towards the Craft trial in North Georgia. He has no interest in appearing or acting unbiased. He is convinced the trial and the key players involved are a sham and an embarrassment. He has an untold number of people connected to the situation on his side and also providing him with details some random dude in Maryland could never otherwise get. And he has uncovered one after another of the most eye-popping small-town Roscoe P. Coltrain kinds of screw-ups in the justice system that make you scared to ever set foot in a small town.
- A Facebook status update written by the prosecutor, with comments left by witnesses for the pending trial.
- A mother claiming on the stand that her daughter had never taken acting classes, yet with information on IMDB that suggests she's taken acting classes in Atlanta (that information was dismissed by the judge).
- A lead child advocate in sexual abuse cases who doesn't even have a college degree, not even three years after the case began, who asked a girl 16 times on video whether she was molested, only to apparently be told after they left the room that it happened, who then failed to document in any way this admission.
- The judge sitting on the case represented the defendant's husband in their divorce but refused to recuse himself from the case.
We might never know The Truth about what, if anything, happened between this woman and these little girls, but we can be certain of this: The Reality is seriously screwed up, and the truth doesn't seem to be all that important in a court of law.
The only thing that's certain, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that three girls have been forever scarred and victimized. The only question is how and by whom, and whether it had anything to do with the adult in question touching them in sexual ways.