Trial begins for principal accused of not reporting sex abuse

October 31, 2012 7:01:45 PM PDT
In San Jose, the trial has begun for a former elementary school principal accused of not reporting a suspected case of child abuse. ABC7 News was in court, where cameras were not allowed.

Prosecutors say these notes are at the heart of the case against the former principal at O.B. Whaley Elementary School in San Jose. In her own handwriting, Lyn Vijayendran described what a third grade student told her in October 2011. The 8-year-old girl said she was alone in the classroom with her teacher, Craig Chandler. She told the principal he blindfolded her, had her lie on the floor and then put something gooey in her mouth.

Prosecutors say Vijayendran was required to immediately report that information.

"I think our point of this entire trial is that a reasonable person would have suspected an act of child abuse had occurred," said Deputy District Attorney Alison Filo.

The defense says Vijayendran was initially alarmed, but was conned by the devious explanation from a trusted teacher. The now former principal says Chandler told her the activity was part of a lesson plan centered on Helen Keller, sensory deprivation and empathy for the disabled.

"Each of the things the child has said were covered by the statement that Chandler gave and they were explained as part of a lesson," said defense attorney Eric Geffon.

Prosecutors say the girl's mother who speaks Cantonese and another district official who was aware of the alleged conduct also did not call police, but they claim the principal was mandated to do so and they have since charged Chandler with felony counts involving five children.

The prosecution rested its case on Wednesday after calling three witnesses to the stand, including the little girl. Thursday the defense could call Vijayendran to the stand herself. If the jury convicts on the one misdemeanor count, she faces up to six months in jail.


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