A San Jose elementary school principal was charged Tuesday with failing to report allegations of a sex crime against a second-grade girl, which is mandatory under state law.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Alison Filo said Lyn Vijayendran, the principal of O.B. Whaley Elementary School on Alvin Avenue, did not report allegations of sexual abuse in October, when a mother came to her to say her child had been allegedly abused by a teacher.
The mother even showed the principal a suspicious stain that her daughter had on her jacket - something the principal allegedly dismissed, Filo said. The mother ended up washing the jacket, which hampered any type of further investigation, Filo said.
Vijayendran, 36, who faces a misdemeanor charge and is not in custody, was not immediately available for comment. Her attorney, Eric Geffon, 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."
Geffon added that he is disappointed with the charge, because 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. We are confident when all of the evidence is examined Ms. Vijayendran will be cleared of any wrongdoing."
But prosecutors said Vijayendran failed to report the complaint as she is required to within 36 hours if there is a reasonable suspicion that the abuse occurred.
"The clear legal responsibility for professionals who hear these terrible allegations is not to call a meeting, it is to call 911," Filo said in a statement. "Mandatory reporting laws are on the books to protect our kids."
The teacher in question - Craig Chandler, 35 - has already been charged with five felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, one count for each girl he allegedly molested. He is being held without bail, and his next court date is scheduled for Aug. 6. His attorneys have maintained his innocence.
Prosecutors say that after the mother came to Vijayendran with concerns about the teacher in October, another girl was allegedly molested in December. In a statement, the District Attorney's Office said the principal was given "clear evidence" had "sexually assaulted a student."
Instead of calling police, prosecutors said Vijayendran interviewed the girl, taking notes, 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.
In January, Filo said that mother went to the assistant principal because Vijayendran was on maternity leave, stating that her daughter had been blindfolded and allegedly asked to do unspeakable acts. During the school's investigation, Filo said they learned three other girls had been molested the prior school year, Filo said.
Since the principal is out of custody, no arraignment date has been scheduled.
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