crimesider

Principal guilty of not reporting suspected child sex abuse by teacher

Lyn Vijayendran, a former San Jose elementary school principal, was convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report suspected child sex abuse by a teacher.
CBS San Francisco
(CBS/AP) SAN JOSE, Calif. - A former elementary school principal has been convicted of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse by a teacher.

A jury on Monday found Lyn Vijayendran, onetime administrator at the O.B. Whaley Elementary School in San Jose, guilty of the misdemeanor charge. It's only the second time in two decades that Santa Clara County prosecutors had pursued a failure to report sex abuse case, and the first time they won, officials said.

A judge sentenced Vijayendran, 36, to two years of probation, $602 in fines and 100 hours of community service, which likely will involve training other educators in the proper reporting of suspected child abuse, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

"I agree with the jury's verdict," Santa Clara County Judge Deborah Ryan told a tearful Vijayendran. "You did what you thought was right, but I don't think it was objectively reasonable at the time."

Vijayendran testified that teacher Craig Chandler appeared forthright when he told her an incident during which he allegedly blindfolded a second-grade girl and put something in her mouth was part of a lesson plan about Helen Keller.

Vijayendran's handwritten and typed notes say the second-grader told the principal that Chandler made her lie down on the classroom floor, touched her feet with something that felt like a tongue and put something in the 8-year-old's mouth that tasted like a salty liquid while she was blindfolded and alone with him in a classroom.

State law requires principals, teachers and others who come into contact with children to report suspected child abuse.

Prosecutors said they decided to try Vijayendran because her failure to report the incident had bad consequences. Another child reported experiencing similar behavior by Chandler about three months later.

Chandler is now facing charges of committing lewd and lascivious acts on five children. A crime lab allegedly found his semen on a classroom chair.

He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 5.

Vijayendran has been reassigned to the district office as a coordinator of teacher support programs.

After Vijayendran was sentenced, juror Susan LaGaffa said the ex-principal "stuck her head in the sand rather than pull the alarm. I think she didn't want this ugly thing to be true."

Another juror, Christina Rodriguez said: "There's a lot more people to be blamed for this. She's a good person - we all saw that."

  • Barry Leibowitz

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