New documents show principal knew of sex abuse


October 5, 2012 7:07:38 PM PDT
Newly-unsealed legal documents reveal disturbing new details in the case of a San Jose elementary school teacher accused of child molestation. The documents indicate the principal knew lurid details, but police say she failed to report the teacher.

Ever since the principal was charged with one misdemeanor count in this case, her attorneys have been trying to keep the notes sealed, but on Thursday a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge unsealed them. They consist of three pages the principal wrote almost one year ago.

Former teacher Craig Chandler is facing felony charges. Prosecutors say he molested five girls between the ages of 7 and 9-years-old at O.B. Whaley Elementary School. The newly-unsealed papers are notes taken by school Principal Lyn Vijayendran. The three pages are notes the principal hand wrote when one of the first children came forward and told her what was happening.

Principal Vijayendran has been charged with failing to report child abuse a misdemeanor. "I cannot imagine that upon hearing that information, the principal was not alarmed enough to contact law enforcement," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Alison Filo.

In Vijayendran's notes, she writes that the child told her. "She felt something gooey. She felt like maybe it was his tongue," one line read. The principal's notes go on in some detail. "Mr. Chandler said 'I'm going to put something in your mouth,'" another line read.

Prosecutors say based on these notes, the principal should have gone to police. Instead, she reported this to the school's human resources department and then interviewed Chandler about what the child described. "It's extremely important that mandatory reporters understand that their obligation is to report, not to investigate," Filo said.

"What was brought to Lyn was not a complaint of abuse, but it was a concern about a lesson plan being done by a teacher," said Eric Gaffon, the attorney representing Vijayendran. "When Lyn interviewed the young girl, her mother was in the room and heard everything that was being said. My client was also in touch with the district throughout the process and no one at any point during that process thought that what they were being told amounted to an active abuse."

Chandler has since been released from the district and is awaiting trial on five separate sexual assault charges against five different children. As for Vijayendran, she is no longer the principal. She has been reassigned and is now in charge of continuing education at Evergreen School District.

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