Update: June 15, 2015
The Evergreen Elementary School District agreed to provide the four children and their families with $15 million to take care of their past and future injuries. The agreement was reached only after Mr. Allard directed a legal team to try the case in court following the District’s refusal to pay fair compensation.
Update: January 7, 2013
NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit claims the Evergreen School District ignored a federal law designed to protect students in cases like this. Title IX requires schools to have a system in place to file sexual harassment and abuse complaints, a trained coordinator to process them and that this information be made public for staff, students and parents. According to the report, at the time of the alleged abuse, Evergreen did not have a trained Title IX coordinator or contact information published online. “If they had followed the law appropriately, none of this would have happened,” attorney Robert Allard told NBC Bay Area.
Update: November 5, 2012
A Santa Clara County Superior Court jury convicted former O.B. Whaley Elementary School principal Lyn Vijayendran of failing to report suspected child abuse in the case involving former teacher Craig Chandler. The San Jose Mercury News reports that Vijayendran faced up to six months in jail if convicted. Vijayendran agreed to be sentenced immediately and Judge Deborah Ryan reportedly sentenced her to six months’ court probation, $602 in fines and 100 hours of community service.
The law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard has filed a civil lawsuit (Santa Clara County Superior Court, Case #112CV235253) on behalf a 10-year-old child molestation victim against the Evergreen Elementary School District, O.B. Whaley Principal Lyn Vijayendran, Vice Principal Lea Peery, and convicted molester Craig Chandler. Chandler was convicted of molesting five young girls.
The child molestation lawsuit claims the Evergreen Elementary School District placed Chandler in a position to abuse the child even though it knew that Chandler had been accused of sexual harassment by two separate teachers as reported to two separate O.B. Whaley principals, including Lyn Vijayendran. The lawsuit claims Vijayendran did not report Chandler’s conduct.
The Lawsuit against O.B. Whaley
The complaint alleges that Chandler repeatedly sexually abused the victim, known as Jane Doe, between August of 2010 and May of 2011 while she was in third grade. The lawsuit claims that Chandler blindfolded the young girl in conjunction with a lesson plan that he called the “Helen Keller Unit”. Chandler allegedly lured and blindfolded the girl by promising her candies but instead sexually abused the child by placing his penis in her mouth and licking her feet. The lawsuit claims that on at least one occasion, Vijayendran walked into Chandler’s classroom while he was alone with a student while conducting his “Heller Keller” lesson plan and she responded by simply telling him to keep the door open.
The lawsuit states that the Evergreen Elementary School District failed in its obligation to properly train its employees as to their role as mandated reporters of sexual abuse. To this end, Vijayendran, as well as the District’s Human Resource Director, recently testified in court that they received absolutely no training on their mandatory duty obligations and sex abuse issues in general. Further, the District allegedly violated state law by prohibiting its employees, when addressing child abuse allegations, from recording interviews with witnesses in order to eliminate evidence that could be used against it in a lawsuit.
The complaint claims that the District instructed mandated reporters such as Vijayendran and Peery to conduct their own investigation as to childhood sexual abuse complaints rather than r fulfilling their legal obligations by reporting them to authorities. As a result, the complaint states that Vijayendran and Peery both failed to report Chandler’s suspected abuse to authorities when the parent of another child reported in October of 2011 that, while her daughter was blindfolded, a “gooey” item had been placed in her mouth during which Chandler placed his hands on her head and moved it back and forth. The victim further reported at this time that a “salty water” substance was ejected into her mouth which dripped onto her jacket. Vijayendran has been charged by the District Attorney for failing to report Chandler’s suspected abuse.
A Voice for Sex Abuse Victims
According to attorney Robert Allard, “this was a much deeper problem that involved much more than one person making a horrible mistake. This was a systemic failure. Both before and after my client was repeatedly subjected to sexual abuse, several members of the school and district knew about Chandler’s sick and twisted sexual predilections and yet, shockingly, he continued to sexually molest children under the auspices that he was teaching them about “Helen Keller.” Seemingly, both the school and the district turned a blind eye to obvious acts of insidious childhood sexual abuse. Combined with the fact that there was, according to the school’s principal and the district’s human resource director, a complete and utter absence of any training or education on sex abuse issues, I have grave doubts, if this is any indication, about whether our children are safe from sex abuse in public schools.”
The lawsuit was filed after the Evergreen Elementary School District denied the victims claim for damages earlier this week.
If you have any information on Craig Chandler or the way O.B. Whaley School or the Evergreen Elementary School District has handled complaints related to Chandler, please contact attorney Robert Allard. He can be reached at 408-289-1417 or toll free at 866-433-6797. You may also fill out the confidential case evaluation form to the right.