TODAY

TODAY   |  December 06, 2010

Teacher cleared of sex abuse makes peace with ex

Georgia schoolteacher Tonya Craft reaches a custody agreement with the father of her children after a court found her not guilty of molesting three little girls. “We knew we could do this,” she said about the deal.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> lost custody of her kids two years ago. she was acquitted in may. now she's worked out a custody deal with her ex-husband. we'll talk to them in a moment. but first, here's nbc's michelle kosins kosinski.

>> reporter: just over six months ago, tanya craft faced a georgia courtroom.

>> i did not and have not sexually abused any child.

>> reporter: the rest of the her life in the balance, her words against those of little children .

>> i'm here because i have been falsely accused.

>> reporter: there were hundreds who supported the popular and exhuberent kirnder garten teacher. her own daughter was taken away from tanya for two years because of all this.

>> i said are you 100% sure that this happened? and i'll never forget the look on her face or in her eyes. she stopped everything she did and looked me dead in the eye and said i know it did, daddy.

>> reporter: accusations that some had axes to grind and were coached by adults. it was such a confusing, indefinite mess, but for tanya , the reality, the questions hanging in the air , was she the innocent victim or a predator who should spend the rest of heifer life behind bars ? the jury delivered vindation.

>> count number one, not guilty. count number 22 , not guilty.

>> not guilty on anything! we knew it!

>> reporter: that is what tanya hoped for on that day in may.

>> i was not going to let them railroad me. this could happen to anybody anywhere at any time like that and your entire life is gone.

>> reporter: and today has gained back what she most treasured. she will now share custody of her son and daughter.

>> we knew that we could work this out and we could do this.

>> reporter: in a case that could have gone either way , tonya craft survived.

>> tanya craft and her husband joe hanke are here. at the end there you said we knew we could do this. a lot of outsiders would say how could they do this? there's been a lot of tension between you two, including the fact that joel , you were one of the people who testified against tanya in tourt. how did you work this out?

>> we worked it out because like we talked about on there, it was for the children. we were actually in a room by ourselves and we shed some tears, we talked about some things and we said a lot of things that just needed to be out in the open.

>> is this just let bygones be by gones? i would have to ask you, do you now believe that nothing she was accused of was true?

>> matt, basically, you know, i thought about that a lot and tanya and i had a lot of great conversation about it and discussion and she saas she said shed a lot of tears. i had a history teacher who said if we don't learn from history we're condemned to repeat it. that kept resonating inside of me. we had to determine that we're going to move forward in the best interests of our children.

>> talk about the relationship with your children now tanya , aiden is 8, co cole is 11. what was your relationship with your daughter like now and your son?

>> actually with both the children and especially my daughter because she was the one that was focused on due to the allegations. it's been described by people who have observed that nothing has happened.

>> did it take a great deal of therapy to get to that point?

>> to be quite honest, i will say that the best thing they are not, they are learning to be healthy children now without being in a therapist's office every week.

>> what impact has it had on the kids, because they lived with you for 2 1/2 years?

>> right. and we have wonderful children so that's a base that a lot of people unfortunately may not be able to claim. but again, i think it was our determination to make sure that they were healthy.

>> i want people to know that on commercial breaks you are laughing and joking and it seems as if this has completely been put behind you?

>> it really has and i'm going to explain in one way that i believe i do have a very strong faith and it was very unusual that day, it was almost like in that room, it's almost like there was a physical heart transplant without having one. i do feel like there was an amount of forgiveness and there was an amount of healing that cannot be explained.

>> you have filed for compensatory damages against various parties, including the lead detective in the case, the sheriff and by the way, a civil suit against joel . what's the status of that lawsuit?

>> the status actually this week, because there's different motions and things that need to be filed, we will be filing something this week. as far as i'm concerned, they will be dismissed.

>> dismissing the civil suit against joel ?

>> it is being dismissed and it's actually being dismissed and my attorneys are going to get me if i get this wrong, i believe with prejudice which means it cannot be refiled. that indicates a very strong trust level that not only is it being dismissed, but it can't be refiled.

>> we sat down in a room together and one of the first things that was put out on the table was let's not focus on all the stuff that's going on around us, let's focus on what we're here to do which is care for our children and that's just the way we did it. and everything else works out and takes care of itself.

>> for the sake of aiden an cole, i hope it works out and i appreciate you sharing your story.

>> nd and i really hope that people going through divorces, no matter what you've been through, you can do what's best for your children.