Craig Chandler, 35, is awaiting trial on charges of committing lewd and lascivious acts on five students at a San Jose elementary school where he taught second grade. His semen was found on a classroom chair.
Monday, a jury convicted the principal of failing to report suspected child abuse, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Principal Lyn Vijayendran listened to a second-grade girl’s story: The teacher had called her into an empty classroom, blindfolded her, told her to lie on the floor and open her legs, touched her feet with something that felt like a tongue, inserted something gooey in her mouth and then wiggled her head around until she tasted a salty liquid.
Instead of calling police, the principal called a district personnel administrator, who suggested questioning the teacher. Chandler said he was preparing for a “Helen Keller” lesson. Vijayendran believed him. The parent accepted the explanation.
Three months later, a parent told police Chandler had molested another second grader in the same fashion.
Juror Kathy Eriksen called the case “tragic,” but said the verdict was “absolutely necessary” to ensure educators, coaches and other mandated reporters don’t shirk their obligation.
. . . Juror Susan LaGaffa said the incident was obviously sexual and the teacher’s explanation ludicrous.
“I think she didn’t want this ugly thing to be true,” LaGaffa said. “But when you have responsibility for hundreds of children, you can’t afford to drop the ball.”
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Deborah Ryan immediately sentenced Vijayendran on the misdemeanor charge, giving her two years of probation and 100 hours of community service. The former principal, now working in the district office, can meet her service hours by training educators to comply with California’s mandated-reporter law.
The human resources director wasn’t charged because she’s not a mandatory reporter.