It is a shocking twist to an already heart-breaking story. Parents of an 8-year-old girl went to the principal at OB Whaley Elementary to report what they suspected was sexual molestation. By law, the principal is required to report it to Child Protective Services or to the district attorney's office. By not doing so, critical evidence against the teacher may have been destroyed.
"It's just inconceivable to me that she did not know that an act of child abuse was being reported to her," Deputy District Attorney Alison Filo told ABC7 News. The incident happened last October involving a student in a combined second and third-grade class taught by Craig Chandler. Chandler was arrested in January after another victim's family reported it to police. Since then, a total of five families have stepped forward claiming their daughters had also been molested.
Principal Lyn Vijayendran, with 14 years as an educator, apparently dismissed the parents' complaint. The prosecutor says the principal may also have let a key piece of evidence be destroyed. "She was provided with a jacket that the child was wearing during the alleged incident. That jacket had a suspicious stain on it that was allegedly acquired during the incident and the principal returned that jacket to the parent thinking it was nothing, and that jacket has now been washed and any forensic value that it had is now gone," Filo said.
The attorney for Vijayendran says she will be self-surrendering to police. She is facing misdemeanor charges for failing to report the incident. Her attorney issued a statement saying, "Ms. Vijayendran, the child's parents, and the school district, who were all aware of the teacher's conduct, had no way of knowing that the conduct was of a sexual nature."
"She was nice and she was always around to see how we were doing," recent O.B. Whaley graduate Valeria Gonzalez said referring to Vijayendran. Still, the delay in reporting the incident may impact the case against the teacher. "He was given a heads-up. He was given an opportunity to create a story. He was given the opportunity to destroy evidence," Filo said.
Vijayendran;s failure to report the incident could lead to six months of jail time. Her attorney is confident she will be cleared of wrong-doing. Teacher Craig Chandler is expected to appear in court again on August 6.