For release on November 5, 2012
Deputy District Attorney
SAN JOSE PRINCIPAL CONVICTED OF FAILING TO REPORT SUSPECTED MOLESTATION SENTENCED TO TRAIN OTHERS
A jury Monday convicted a San Jose elementary school principal for failing to contact authorities after learning that a third-grade girl may have been sexually molested by her teacher in the class room.
After a trial, Lyn Vijayendran, 36, was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge for her failure to report child abuse. Hon.Deborah Ryan sentenced the principal to 100 hours of community service, preferably by training other mandatory reporters in their duties under the law.
Late last year, Vijayendran heard from a student’s mother that her daughter had been subjected to a bizarre classroom lesson by teacher Craig Chandler. The principal determined through her own “investigation” that no crime had been committed. Later, a police investigation found that five girls at O.B. Whaley Elementary School were sexually molested. One girl was allegedly molested weeks after the principal learned of the first allegation without notifying police.
“We hope that mandatory reporters in our community understand their basic obligation to contact law enforcement every time they so much as suspect that a child has been harmed,’’ said Alison Filo, who prosecuted the case. “In the words of the defendant, ‘I would have been crazy not to realize that this child was describing a sex act.’ Getting talked out of that reasonable suspicion by her own inadequate investigation just isn’t a defense.”
During the week-long trial, prosecutor Filo had argued that hearing details about the strange classroom lesson, which involved a blindfold and putting something in the nine-year-old child’s mouth, triggered the principal’s duty under the law to contact authorities. Instead of calling police in October 2011, the administrator interviewed the girl, taking; descriptive notes. She also told the girl’s concerned mother that a suspicious stain on the young girl’s jacket was unimportant. The mother took it back and washed it, destroying potential DNA evidence. The administrator laterinterviewed the teacher, potentially undermining the investigation.
In January, 2012, another parent came forward to complain that her daughter had been molested by Chandler around the time of Christmas break. San Jose police were finally called. Chandler stands charged with five felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14. That trial is scheduled to begin on December 5, 2012.