Prosecutors say O.B. Whaley Principal Lyn Vijayendran did not report allegations of abuse.Now it is up to a jury to decide.
After a two-day trial in San Jose, a Santa Clara County jury began deliberating over the unusual case of a principal charged with failing to report to the proper authorities that an 8-year-old girl said she had been sexually abused by a teacher.
The jury began deliberating the fate of Lyn Vijayendran, the former principal at O.B. Whaley Elementary School, early Friday afternoon. They went home for the weekend just after 5 p.m. without reaching a verdict and will be back it Monday morning.
The group met with the judge before heading out. Four of them said they needed more time; the other eight said they had made their decision.
The 36-year-old principal could face a maximum of six months in prison if she is convicted. She is accused of not taking seriously - and not telling police - that a mother told her that teacher Craig Chandler, 35, had acted strangely - and with a sexual nature - toward her daughter last October.
Vijayendran took the stand on Thursday, telling the jury that she believed the teacher's account of the story at the time, and now regrets that she did.
But prosecutors said that regrets aren't enough.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Alison Filo has maintained that there was enough there so that the principal should have known better: The mother showed Vijayendran a suspicious stain that her daughter had on her jacket - something the principal allegedly dismissed. The mother then ended up washing the jacket, which hampered any type of further investigation, Filo said.
And instead of calling police, Filo said Vijayendran interviewed the girl, taking notes, (PDF) and after speaking with the girl's mother about the girl's jacket with the stain, told her it "was not important," according to prosecutors.
Vijayendran's attorney Eric Geffon had previously sent NBC Bay Area a written statement, saying that his client has "spent her entire career dedicated to children. Their safety is her utmost concern."
Vijayendran's trial stems from the criminal case of a teacher at her former school: Chandler was arrested in January on charges that he sexually abused five girls - his signature act was blindfolding the young students and touching them inappropriately during recess and lunch hour when no one else was around. He is in custody, and could face a maximum of 75 years in prison if he is convicted of all counts.
There are also two lawsuits filed in this case. The latest was this week, when one of the 10-year-old victims filed suit against the Evergreen School District (PDF), Chandler and Vijayendran, claiming that there was negligent hiring and training and emotional distress. In October, a parent had also sued the district for negligently hiring and supervising Chandler.