Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Custody Battle Ends

Tonya Craft and Joal Henke have reached a joint custody agreement for the sake children. Is this really what is best for the children?

A great deal has happened between these two parents. It has to be difficult for them to ever reach an agreement about so little as the weather, yet they have agreed to share custody of two children, who, if all Henke said was true, are in danger. A leopard, afterall, never changes its spots.

The Today Show host asked Henke if he believed that Craft was innocent. He was like a politician in his ability to skirt the issue. He cited a history teacher as though we were about to hear some profound quote, but it was the words of every history who has to defend the study of a course to which he or she has devoted his or her life: "If we do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat it." It sounded so rehearsed, which is what one would have to do when preparing for a live spot, knowing such a question would arise. That's what I'd do. He was not badgered for the answer to the question, so we do not know whether he believes her or not, for sure. Let's just hope the history in question is not endangering his children.

If I had to guess, any time a person does not answer a direct question, it is because the answer will not be popular, at least in present or mixed company. Now, I have to ask whether or not Craft has worn him down with petitions, and he inadvertantly peddled the safety of his children in order to avoid the lawsuit. I'm sure Henke thinks, "She wouldn't dare do it again."

On the other hand, as risky as it would seem on her part, I can imagine, especially if she gets back on the bottle, that she would be vulnerable. I can see her convincing her daughter or son, her victim not to tell and believing that she has the power to stop them from telling. Think about it. I can hear Craft now. Remember the last time you tried to tell. No one believed you. I didn't go to jail, and you better not tell this time, or we'll all have to go through the same hell. Are these kids really safe? Remember the popular blogger who disclosed the name of the fourth victim. He was a boy. The blogger stated that child molesters either like boys or girls, and that is not the case. Child molestation by definition indicates a sexual preference for children, boys or girls. Is now the son in danger?

I am not saying that I can blame Henke. What if it turned out that he lost and did not fair as well as he did in the agreement. After all, Craft was acquitted, and even though the courts could not simply put the kids back in Craft's immediate custody, they could have found her fit and would have had to closely examine giving her custody because in the court's eyes she has done nothing wrong.

Many who side with Craft think the matter is black and white, that her custody priviledges should have been reinstated the day she was acquitted--before the sun had even set. The fact is things are never black and white. There is lots of gray area, and the daughter had not seen her mother for over 700 days. There had to be all kinds of trust issues on her part, as well. The court definitely had the kids' best interest at heart in terms of the transition. These are human beings not property. On the other hand, I do not see how Craft can continue to talk about acting out of the best interest of all the children involved and still have suits pending against their parents. After all, these people believe that their kids were abused. Had she gone after the CAC only, then I would have to reevaluate my stance. Any time greed enters into the mix, one's credibility falters.

I can imagine Henke is relieved to be through. I am sure that his life has been hell, going to court for every little thing, late drop-offs and the rest of it. I'm sure that all these court appearances are rough on the children, as well. This has been their life. All of this has to be traumatic, as well, and as this is not black and white, it is hard to know where to draw the line.

I can imagine that Craft has convinced Henke that the children are safe. I know the parent of an abused child, and she talks of continually having the hope that there was some big mistunderstanding while her child was going back and forth for the interviews at the CAC. She wanted it to all be a misunderstanding. The abuser happened to be the girls' paternal grandfather. After much time had gone by, the parent wanted her daughter to be able to see her grandmother, and she remembers going over the risks in her mind and thinking, "Surely he would not dare try anything like that again." Ultimately, she did not allow history to repeat itself, and he was never alone with the child again. In fact, during the whole Craft trial, this parent doubted the ability of the CAC, wondering was it possible that this same agency had coached her daughter. It bothered her so much that she addressed the matter with her daughter, who was a bit put off with the question, and said, "I know it happened," and did not wish to discuss it further. Doubts are nothing uncommon for victims' parents, so I can imagine the hope that Henke is able to keep in his heart in believing his children are safe. Let's hope he is looking at this history thing properly.

If nothing else, Henke believes with all this publicity, surely she would not risk it again. I hope that is true. Craft was scheduled to discuss her reasons for dropping the suit on her Chattanooga radio show this week. I haven't listened to "The Me Hour" yet; I guess I'll have to buckle and grin and bear to hear her side.

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